Establishing a Culture of Community Learning and Literacy:
Exploring the Learning City Model
The idea of a Learning City or City of and for Learning encourages us to think and act beyond the walls of established educational institutions and infrastructures and think about the city as an ecosystem containing vast opportunities, resources, and potential for enabling people to learn and develop themselves in ways that meet their needs, interests, and ambitions. In this way, they can participate more fully in their own lives and in the life of the city which they inhabit and become the person they want to be and help sustain their families, communities, and the city in the process.
The project will be informed by the Learning Cities initiative supplemented with appreciative inquiry practices. One of the intended project outcomes is to strengthen the vulnerable populations through providing programs that "meet them where they are" and - through grassroots research - increase their literacy and leadership capacities.
The selected research method is narrative analyses (especially life-course narrative analysis) to identify the ecosystems and to identify the constellations of activity object-motives of otherwise separate activity systems as changing (or not) over time.
Participatory Action Research
Each participating community's members and various local NGO leaders (religious, athletics, non profits, etc) will be invited to engage in an initial planning and strategy meeting. They will be given an interactive presentation on the Mid Mon Valley Project, the intentions, design, and goals.
Each participant is open to offer their thoughts with identifying the various community issues that are barriers to mitigating low adult literacy and poverty. The purpose would be to advance a culture of lifelong learning and community vibrancy.
Through a series of meetings in the local communities, open conversations with the community members regarding the research focus, design, and procedures, as well as data collection tool development will be held. Also, strategies for research participant recruitment will be developed.
Life-Course Analysis & Narrative Inquiries
Life course analysis provides the ability to study the social and demographic change by studying a participant's evolving life process. Their life is analyzed as an evolving process of demographic events that serve as critical transitions that may describe a participant's life biography. Among the concepts explored are how each participant organizes their life related to specific life events and the meaning at the greater community level.
Thirty to fifty narrative inquiries/life course analyses in each of the various Mid Mon Valley communities is projected. Through people's stories and subsequent findings, adult and community education and literacy providers are better positioned for developing and building a culture of learning in the community.