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Learning regions

Thematic issue of the Hungarian Educational Research Journal (HERJ), Vol 4 ( 2014), No 3

Magdolna Benke & Tamás Kozma (eds.)

Initial announcement in L&W Newsletter of August 2014

Online edition

Overview of contributions

* Introduction - Magdolna Benke [Preface]
The authors of the thematic issue present certain distinct periods and phases of the history of the learning region, thereby drawing our attention to different aspects and activities related to the learning region concept. All the concepts of the learning region theories emphasize the importance of partnership and co-operation between stakeholders, the key role of universities as innovation partners, the utilization of local knowledge and the support of bottom-up activities. Thus the concept of the learning region easily became a flagship of both university-based region/city development activities and the lifelong learning movement, and offered an appropriate environment for research projects targeting local development with a wide range of regional instruments. 
The Hungarian Educational Research Journal (HERJ) is an international journal focusing on current ideas and themes in educational research. HERJ publishes academic, scholarly writings, only in English. It is the official journal of the Hungarian Educational Research Association (HERA). HERJ reflects educational research in Europe, our main focus being on Central Europe. The journal welcomes reports on surveys and comparative, experimental, historical and theoretical studies - both quantitative and qualitative perspectives. HERJ research papers are peer-reviewed through double-blind refereeing. 
(Contributed by Magdolna Benke for L&W Newsletter <magdolna.benke@gmail.com>)

* Learning regions for local innovation - Barry Nyhan [Article]
In this chapter, a 'learning region' is defined as a region or locality where people learn to cooperate  to carry out innovative actions. Thus, the term 'learning' is understood in its widest sense as a means to innovation. Indeed, in a learning region 'learning' and 'innovation' are two sides of the same coin. However, while learning as understood above is much broader than the learning taking place in traditional educational and training institutes, the latter are required to play a key role in promoting learning regions, providing leadership, fostering  networks and facilitating different kinds of learning - social, business and technological. A good deal of this chapter  is devoted to discussing ways in which education and training institutes have promoted different kinds of  learning regions. The chapter shows how extra-curiculum programmes and research and development projects became vehicles for cooperative learning for innovation. It also illustrates how universities can support innovation  through undertaking accompanying research and providing expert 'scientific' knowledge. 
(Contributed by Barry Nyhan for L&W Newsletter <barrynyhan@gmail.com>)

* Learning cities 2020 - Michael Osborne [Article]
This article provides a brief overview of historic work in the field of Learning City development. It then proceeds to highlight two contemporary strands of work. The first is the initiative of UNESCO’s Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) in establishing the International Platform of Learning Cities. The second is the work of the PASCAL Observatory, currently manifested in the Learning Cities 2020 programme.
(Abstract by Michael Osborne <Michael.Osborne@glasgow.ac.uk>)

* Cooperation between vocational education and training and enterprises: The role of learning networks as elements of regional innovation systems - Ludger Deitmer [Article]
The European landscape of regional innovation cooperation under VET and enterprises is highly differentiated. Some regions are recognised as genuine "learning regions" with strong cooperation under stakeholders from VET, university and enterprises. Other regions remain underdeveloped - partly because regional policies are not triggering and supporting such regional innovation potentials or because key stakeholders are involved in conflicts with each other. The article provides insights into the initial development of networks. As a characteristic example, the article examines the Bremen regional programme Work and Technology and examples of influential networks. Finally, some lessons for the management of regional networks will be presented in the light of these cases. As a result, the nature of innovation dialogues under actors, the degree of integration of the approaches, the increase of individual innovative capabilities of the different actors, their work & business process orientation, the diffusion intensity of the regional network into the region and, finally, the potential for improving the (infrastructural) innovative capabilities of a region are seen as key factors.
(Contributed by Ludger Deitmer for L&W Newsletter <deitmer@uni-bremen.de>)

* The Learning Region Initiative - Balázs Németh [Article]
The aim of this paper is to give a thorough insight into the evolution of the learning city-region initiative and connect it to the changing roles of higher education institutions within a frame of third missions of universities so as to promote regional development. Accordingly, this study bridges the conceptual approaches to some recent European researches and initiatives which have aimed at promoting concrete developments in the field, with particular involvement of higher education and its third roles so as to promote learning communities and learning economy. The result of research and development in the field produced projects like LILARA, PENR3L, EuroLOCAL and the recent HEAD-project (Opening Higher Education to Adults), in which the author participated as an expert on adult learning and education with a perspective on university lifelong learning. 
(Contributed by Balázs Németh for L&W Newsletter <nemeth.balazs@feek.pte.hu>)

* The Learning Region: A Critical Interpretation - Tamás Kozma [Article]
The ‘learning region’ discourse emerged from the debates of the neoliberal views of socio-economic and cultural change. These views stressed the overall trends of globalisation which had to transform the traditional economic, social and cultural institutions. In opposition of these views, the ‘learning region’ discourse pointed out the importance of locality. The ‘learning region’ discourse has challenged the globalisation arguments in three dimensions. (a) Market forces work only in the traditional sense (local markets) and lose sense in a global environment. (b) Democratic governance is also a local idea; ‘democracy’ in a globalised world makes no sense. (c) Social networking, communities of practices and similar efforts to use the forces of cooperation for innovation are also bound to localities. Thus the ‘globalisation’ discourse of the 1990s makes only sense with the ‘learning region’ discourse of the 2000s.
(Abstract by Tamás Kozma <kozmat@ella.hu>)

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