The role of action-oriented learning theories for change in agriculture and rural networks

  • Chris BlackmoreEmail author
  • Marianne Cerf
  • Ray Ison
  • Mark Paine


Links between learning theories, action and practice are explored in order to focus on the idea of action-oriented learning theories. The nature of learning theories is examined and their role in changing practices associated with issues of food and farming systems or resource management. Levels and cycles are distinguished as key dimensions of learning theories that can be used in designing learning programmes using individual or group-based approaches. The relationship between learning, change and practice is considered and which kinds of learning theory might be used in different situations in which issues of change are to be addressed. Examples are provided from the European LEARNing project. Difficulties are revealed in whether and how ‘learning researchers’ make explicit their theoretical perspectives in relation to issues of learning and change in given situations. A conceptual framework is therefore developed, intended to be used as a heuristic device to support researchers in reviewing their perspectives.


Collective Action Order Change Farm Performance LEARNing Project Reflexive Process 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We wish to acknowledge the special group of people who constituted the LEARNing project. Their critical engagement, personal warmth and friendship made all that is written here possible. They included: Christophe Albaladejo, Isabelle Avelange, Marc Barbier, Rémi Barré, Marco Barzmann, Nathalie Couix, Nathalie Girard, Bernard Hubert, Janice Jiggins, Sofie Kobayashi, Alex Koutsouris, Jozsef Kozari, Catherine Mougenot, Jet Proost, Ewa Rockika, Niels Röling, Nadarajah Sriskadarajah, Pierre Stassart, Patrick Steyaert and Severine van Bommel.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris Blackmore
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marianne Cerf
    • 2
  • Ray Ison
    • 1
    • 3
  • Mark Paine
    • 4
  1. 1.Communication and Systems DepartmentThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK
  2. 2.INRA, UR 1236 SenS, Université Paris-EstMarne la ValléeFrance
  3. 3.Monash Sustainability InstituteMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  4. 4.Dairy NZHamiltonNew Zealand

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