Social Learning Driven by Collaboration in the Canadian Network of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves

  • Maureen G. ReedEmail author
  • Paivi Abernethy
Part of the Ecological Research Monographs book series (ECOLOGICAL)


Learning has become a means for achieving adaptive governance and sustainability; however, relatively little attention has been given to learning partnerships of groups spanning spatial scales, governance responsibilities and scales of influence. This chapter documents a multi-scale partnership involving academics, practitioners, and governing bodies associated with Canadian biosphere reserves. Together they worked to improve their sustainability practices through networking and social learning strategies. Initiated in 2011, the partnership involved individual practitioners of 15 biosphere reserves, academic researchers, and the national-level governing bodies of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme of UNESCO – the Canadian-MAB committee, and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. We demonstrate how single, double and triple loop learning outcomes were achieved in this multi-level partnership through a platform structured around a social learning and action cycle using highly skilled facilitation. We paid particular attention to three questions: (1) who learns?; (2) what is to be learned?; and (3) how can social learning be accomplished? Over time, experience and trust gained through the partnership encouraged biosphere reserve practitioners, governing agencies, academic researchers and Indigenous partners to engage in peer learning and deepen learning outcomes in favour of sustainability and adaptive governance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  2. 2.Royal Roads UniversityVictoriaCanada

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