Learning across Social Spaces

Learning across Social Spaces

Gilbert Ahamer (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria) and Josef Strobl (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-779-4.ch001


This case explores the mutual link between education, structural evolution, social spaces and institutional change. It develops theoretical perspectives and illustrates them by practical cases. Three approaches of learning (psychological, evolutionist and ontological) lead to specific targets for successful learning settings, both for individual and societal learning. A series of structural transitions seems to best characterize the genesis of economies, civilizations and targets. “Space” is here understood as being created by social, esp. communicative action and can hence be generated anew by pervasive learning processes. Learning across social spaces means both intercultural and interdisciplinary learning and places learners into diverse systems of meaning. In a series of cases for learning settings, especially dialogic intercultural learning is identified as a key path to a harmonious development of nations.
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Questions And Answers

  • 1.

    What theoretical standpoint should we adopt towards learning?

  • 2.

    Can our lessons learned from individual learning also be applied to societal learning?

  • 3.

    What does civilisational evolution tell us about suitable targets and methods of learning?

  • 4.

    Does “institution building” have a natural place in civilisational evolution?

  • 5.

    Is it helpful to think of social space as a substrate and tool for our learning procedures?

  • 6.

    Will the emerging “network society” support the creation of meaning, i.e. societal learning?

The following chapters will provide answers and the case studies will show implementations.


What Is Learning?

Several basic approaches can be taken towards learning. The direction in which one understands learning predetermines the learning setting considered as optimal. Consequently, it is a prerequisite to reach clarity about how one might understand “learning”. This chapter proposes:

  • 1.

    learning as mental structural change (psychological approach)

  • 2.

    learning as leapfrogging biological and evolutionary cycles (evolutionist approach)

  • 3.

    learning as creating new (mental, existential) spaces by reflection (ontological approach).

In any case, it will be useful to keep in mind both learning of individuals and learning of society.

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