ERIC Number: ED390626
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-Jul
Reference Count: N/A
The Learning Community: Survival and Sustainability on the Plains.
The rural communities of the North American Great Plains are experiencing fundamental economic and social changes that threaten their very existence. While local projects offer hope for survival, many communities lack the knowledge needed to envision and evaluate their possible futures. As a consequence, communities may pursue survival strategies that offer short-term solutions but condemn the town's long-term sustainability. This paper details an anticipatory and participatory planning process for a "learning community." The process assumes the presence of a community development professional whose role is primarily that of an educator who helps to develop the community's capacity to plan for itself. The process is essentially a systems analysis, problem-solving approach that may be described as "community self-actualization." Community design alternatives are created using organizational development techniques that focus on small-group learning activities. Techniques include transcendental imaging, futuring activities that anticipate possible effects of participant choices, and the development of consensus goals. The learning community then embarks on a self-study based on sociocultural, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability. The previously generated community alternatives are evaluated on the basis of sustainability checklists. Multicommunity collaboration is explored and encouraged. The plan for the preferred future of each of the community's elements is officially adopted, followed by implementation and monitoring activities. Contains 26 references, a chart of the learning community process, and an example from an environmental checklist. (Author/SV)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Descriptive; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Capacity Building; Community Viability; United States (Great Plains States)
Note: In: Issues Affecting Rural Communities. Proceedings of an International Conference Held by the Rural Education Research and Development Centre (Townsville, Queensland, Australia, July 10-15, 1994); see RC 020 376.