School–community learning partnerships for sustainability: Recommended best practice and reality
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Effective partnerships across different stakeholders are essential to the collaboration required for learning cities to contribute to sustainable development. Through partnerships, formal educational institutions, such as schools and universities, play a vital role in establishing and sustaining learning cities, often by facilitating the meaningful participation of different local community members. The research presented in this article examines the characteristics of effective school–community partnerships in the literature and compares it to the results of a three-year research study which examined 16 case studies of school–community partnerships in the state of Victoria in Australia. Using participatory action research, the researchers identified four approaches to implementing partnerships for sustainability, explored challenges to achieving an idealised partnership, and made recommendations for establishing successful partnership networks. The researchers propose that partnerships be viewed as a dynamic resource rather than merely a transactional arrangement that addresses the identified challenges of time, funding, skills and personnel. Furthermore, the use of “partnership brokers”, such as local government or non-government organisations, is recommended to expand the current school-centred approach to partnerships. These insights aim to contribute to providing quality education and lifelong learning through partnerships – outcomes crucial for establishing and sustaining learning cities.
Keywordssustainability learning communities schools partnership local government
Partenariats d’apprentissage école-collectivité pour la viabilité : meilleure pratique recommandée vs réalité – Des partenariats efficaces entre diverses parties prenantes sont indispensables à la collaboration requise pour que les villes apprenantes contribuent au développement durable. À travers les partenariats, les établissements scolaires formels tels que les écoles et universités jouent un rôle essentiel dans la création et la pérennisation des villes apprenantes, souvent en facilitant la participation effective de différents membres de la communauté locale. Le travail présenté dans cet article examine dans la documentation existante les caractéristiques des partenariats efficaces école-collectivité, et les compare aux résultats d’une étude de recherche triennale qui analyse 16 études de cas de partenariats école-collectivité dans l’État australien de Victoria. Appliquant la recherche-action participative, les chercheurs ont identifié quatre approches en vue de l’implantation de partenariats pour le développement durable, exploré les obstacles à la réalisation d’un partenariat idéal, et émis des recommandations pour l’instauration de réseaux concluants de partenaires. Les chercheurs proposent de considérer le partenariat comme une ressource dynamique et non un simple accord commercial, en vue d’aborder les défis en termes de temps, de financement, de compétences et de personnel. Ils recommandent en outre le recours à des « courtiers en partenariat » tels que gouvernement local et organisations non gouvernementales, pour élargir l’approche du partenariat actuellement centrée sur les écoles. Ces observations visent à contribuer via les partenariats à une éducation de qualité et à l’apprentissage tout au long de la vie – ces critères étant cruciaux pour créer et pérenniser les villes apprenantes.
This research was supported under the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects funding scheme (Project LP098314). The views expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Australian Research Council. Partners in the project included the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University, Sustainability Victoria (SV), Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies (CERES), South East Councils Climate Change Alliance (SECCCA), Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), Independent Schools Victoria (ISV), and Yarra Ranges Council (YRC). The chief investigators on the project were Professor John Fien, Professor Annette Gough, Associate Professor Jose Roberto Guevara, Dr Leone Wheeler and Dr Jodi-Anne Smith. The authors wish to express their appreciation to Professors Fien and Gough for their ongoing guidance. We also thank our research partners for truly making this research not just about learning partnerships but also conducted through learning partnerships. We especially want to recognise the valuable contribution of Eric Bottomley who passed away in the middle of the research. We dedicate this article to him for his commitment to learning for sustainability through his work at CERES and with the Victorian Government’s ResourceSmart Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI) programme.
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