Innovators in Rural Community Economic Development

Emerging Issues for Learning Communities

Tags: Community Economic Development, Learning Communities, Research, Social Capital, Systems Thinking

Client Name: Appalachian Regional Commission

Location: Washington DC

Resource Type: Report

Author Org: Yellow Wood Associates

Author: Shanna Ratner

Year: 1997

This paper explores the concept of learning communities and the shifts in concept and practice required to bring them about based on emerging ideas in the physical sciences, leadership training, learning theory, rural development, public work, organizational learning, systems thinking, and community capacity building. The major shifts in concept include changing assumptions about people and human nature and changing definitions of community and development. The major shifts in practice include creating multiple spaces for public deliberation and removing barriers to action and reflection. Embracing these changes leads to a redefinition of the role of the Appalachian Regional Commission and rural development practitioners from agents external to the communities we attempt to serve to integral parts of community systems with revised roles and responsibilities. This paper is based in part on work that was conducted on behalf of the Appalachian Regional Commission by Yellow Wood Associates, Inc. The concepts and opinions presented in the paper do not reflect the opinions or policies of the Appalachian Regional Commission.

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