20 Social learning

"Sustainability, is better seen as a measure of the relationship between the community as learners and their environments, rather than an externally designed goal to be achieved" (Sriskandarajah et al, 1991).

The concept of social (or collaborative) learning refers to learning processes among a group of people who seek to improve a common neighbourhood situation, such as crime, transport or energy use, and take action collectively. This shared understanding effectively extends individual experiential learning into collective learning. This is a form of governance, in the sense that governance relates to how society manages to allocate resources and coordinate or control activity in society or the economy. It is also adaptive management or 'learning-by-doing', facilitated by neighbours sharing a sense of place regarding the features, built and natural that make the neighbourhood ‘a good place to be’.

Government at all levels is discovering interesting and ambitious ways that social media can be used to increase civic participation in decision-making, health-care /wellness, energy sustainability, education, disaster response, community safety, scientific research, etc.