Turning research on learning cities into action: Success stories of three UIL scholars
Three visiting scholars at the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) spent June 2016 conducting research into learning cities and how the corresponding lifelong learning strategies work at local level. With the support of UIL’s comprehensive library and in consultation with experts at UIL, the three scholars – Oksana Chigisheva from the Russian Federation, Serhii Pryima from Ukraine and Sawsan El Sherif from Egypt – explored a number of promising themes in relation to learning cities. Since completing their scholarships, they have all taken action to advance the development of learning cities in their home countries.
Ms Chigisheva, Associate Professor at Southern Federal University and Head of the International Research Centre ‘Scientific Cooperation’ in Rostov-on-Don, Russian Federation, conducted theoretical research into the role that peace education can play in building learning cities. Ms Chigisheva has now submitted a scholarly article based on her research on learning cities to be published in the International Review of Education. Her article focuses on cities, slums and marginalization and how lifelong learning can improve social cohesion in those areas.
Mr Pryima, Vice-Rector and Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences at the Melitopol Bogdan Khemelnitsky State Pedagogical University, studied the strategic implementation of the learning city idea in Melitopol. He had previously led his city’s efforts in becoming the first in Ukraine to join the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC) and devised the corresponding implementation plan. Since his return he has been working on the implementation of this strategy. Among other activities, he organized a forum on adult education in August 2016, focusing on the construction of a learning city and has developed a web-based portal called ‘Zaporizhia region – A Learning Region’.
Ms El Sherif, Associate Researcher at the American University in Cairo’s Social Research Center, investigated a potential implementation strategy for use in Giza in Egypt, a member city of the UNESCO GNLC. She focused particularly on how this strategy would be executed in Imbaba, an area in the northern part of the city. Upon her return, she consulted with the city authorities and identified key stakeholders in Giza in order to start the implementation of the project. The governor of Giza has since agreed to establish a learning city committee. Ms Sherif has also written two articles about learning cities in Arabic, held a seminar on the topic, and launched the Giza learning city project at a national conference on 7 December 2016.
A fourth scholar on learning cities has subsequently joined UIL. Ms Shanyun He, Associate Professor, College of Education, Zhejiang University, China, has started work on a case study on building modes and performance evaluation towards a learning city in Hangzhou, China, and aims to publish a report on that theme, including strategic direction for building learning cities internationally. In 2018, it is expected that UIL will host a fresh intake of visiting research scholars on learning cities.