Make a Change by Exchanging Views

Make a Change by Exchanging Views

Gilbert Ahamer (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria) and Thomas Jekel (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-749-7.ch001
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Initially, this case presents a theoretical description highlighting how spaces are constructed. Perspectives onto reality are the elemental units of our world. They are changed through learning processes. Societal learning can enlarge and approximate spaces of understanding. Social spaces are a type of “social capital”. Design of learning procedures refers to the design of structures in time, space and in the space of opinions that facilitates multi-perspectivist and multidisciplinary understanding of involved stakeholders. The following section of this case dwells on several cases of cooperative learning through dialogue: the project Schools on Ice, the UniGIS online curriculum, the UniNet network in Kyrgyzstan and Nepal, Global Studies, the ESD forum, the Environmental Systems Analysis Curriculum USW, and the European Union Twinning tool applied in Slovakia, Slovenia, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
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Questions And Answers

  • 1.

    What is the inner meaning of learning?

  • 2.

    Which role plays learning in global civilisatoric evolution?

  • 3.

    How to overcome individualistic and sectoral views that hinder intercultural understanding?

  • 4.

    Is it helpful to use recent concepts such as network society, social capital or structural capital?

  • 5.

    Was “dialogic learning” and “exchanging views on reality” applied in more than a dozen cases of individual and societal learning and to what extent was this successful?


Setting The Stage

Learning is Dialogue

As a starting point, we look at the core element of any social progress, namely at “dialogue”. Dialogue leads to reflection and reflection, in turn, leads to awareness.

The final target of evolution (encompassing amongst others the evolution of mankind) is to build consciousness (Ahamer & Strobl, 2009). Consciousness governs procedures in the material world.

Dialogue is a suitable means to approximate divergent views – which is one of the main issues of learning – and to ultimately facilitate changes in consciousness.

Regarding learning, we may distinguish between individual learning and societal learning. Regarding the multiplicity of learning objects and learners, we distinguish the following types of learning:

  • Individual learning

    • o

      traditional learning (1:1)

    • o

      interdisciplinary learning (1:n)

    • o

      intercultural learning (n:m)

  • Societal learning, e.g.

    • o

      responding to climate change

    • o

      political integration (globally, Europe-wide).

We are traditionally used to approach learning objects from one perspective (1:1) and consider it a progress to view objects from several, interdisciplinary perspectives (1:n). A still more advanced learning procedure would take into account the multitude of learning subjects (m) in addition to the multiplicity of learning objects (n), we will refer to it as intercultural learning (m:n) in this text because subjects are considered to be rooted and coached in their respective cultures inducing the subject to see and view reality as they decide to.

Useful training situations are spatial planning exercises and other space-related procedures that are open to GIS applications (Jekel, 2007, 2008ab, Strobl, 2007, 2008), or political, technological, civil engineering, cultural or peace negotiations in the classroom (Ahamer, 2004).

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