In loosely structured environments such as rural areas, the objectives and methods to encourage knowledge creation and learning are still much debated, leading to a wide diversity of learning systems. Using action-learning theory as a standpoint from which to understand this diversity, a review of the literature was conducted and five specific approaches were identified: (1) extension, (2) community learning, (3) organizational capacity building, (4) empowerment, and (5) social learning. Extension systems and organizational capacity building represent an operational perspective mainly focused on acquiring knowledge and changing practices, through single-loop learning processes. Community learning and empowerment were developed as alternative systems, focusing on changes in values, which can be achieved through double-loop learning. Social learning provides insight into the capacity to influence a wider environment through triple-loop learning, although methods are still rarely formalized. The action-learning perspective enables an understanding of the complementarities between approaches, and thus provides insight into how to devise better learning systems.
Diverse approaches to learning in rural and development studies: review of the literature from the perspective of action learning
14 January 2014