20 October 2008

Workplace Learning and Social Change: What's the Link?

This year, I am doing a Graduate Assistanceship in the brand new Collaborative Program in Workplace Learning and Social Change. It is a joint program between the Departments of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology, and Sociology and Equity Studies in Education, here at OISE. The program
caters to students interested in developing their understanding of work and learning trends in Canada and internationally with a focus on social change.
Essentially, this program enables its participants to
situate workplace learning within broader social trends such as globalization, neo-liberalism and organizational restructuring [while] exploring connections between learning as an individual and social phenomena, [and] identifying learning strategies that foster social change through greater equality of power, inclusion, participatory decision-making and economic democracy.

If you, or someone you know, might be considering a graduate degree - M.Ed., M.A., or Ph.D. - with a dual research focus in in workplace or organization, and social change or activism, this might well be the program for you. You can find out more by joining us next Wednesday, October 29, 2008, from 17:00 to 19:00 for our opening reception: Workplace Learning and Social Change: What's the Link? It's being held at OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, Toronto in room 5-250. You'll have the opportunity to meet some of the professors and students involved, munch some nibblies, peruse some of the ongoing research, and participate in a small adult ed-y sort of happening.

And if you do attend, make sure you come by and introduce yourself! Hope to see you there.

[Technorati tags: | | | | | | | | | | ]


Anonymous said...

Hi Mark, sounds like an interesting program.

Would it accommodate someone who works with a 'labour force' whose workplace is not with a single employer, or an employer at all? I am speaking of the cultural workers, artists, freelance designers, etc whose physical workbase is their own home office or studio, but whose learning while on the job - whether conscious, or formal or neither - is just as critical to their resilience and success as anyone. And it is an interesting landscape of learning that needs to be made visible and shared as part of the creative economy 'movement', if we truly want to know everything we need to know to make the most of it for everyone. As opposed to having the creative/knowledge capital of the artists 'harvested' for little return to them.

I'm thinking that since more and more of us are taking on a career of nonstandard employment, this issue is highly important beyond the working lives of artists. The next generation needs be far better prepared for self-management than they have been through current models of education.

Anyway, it is a thought. I am not suggesting the company is disappearing, but that there is a system/organization that artists work in (and one that social activists work in, too) that does not necessarily have walls, but influences their learning deeply, overtly and covertly.

UBC has recently taken on a committment to introduce community service-learning as a formal part of curriculum in all faculties, and since this is far from a new idea, its emergence today might indicate a general movement towards integration of process and product elements in education. Is this part of a general recognition of the need to edge towards a UCaPP 'environment' in society at large?

I hope so, and it could mean that stepping outside the 'box' of the standard corporate employer as workplace and 'into' the paradoxical world of the 'career self-managing'.

Love to know what you think.

Mark Federman said...

Lots of really good questions here, Judi, and for that I thank you. (I may turn this response into a longer post in the future.)

Without a doubt, the Collaborative Program in Workplace Learning and Social Change would contemplate those contingent workers "whose workplace is not with a single employer, or an employer at all." I take minor issue with your suggestion that artists' learning on the job (so to speak) might not conscious: learning may be non-formal or informal, as well as formal, but must be realized consciously to comprise learning and knowledge (allowing, of course, for multiple ways of knowing). Awareness of the learning that happens is another story altogether.

But minor quibbles aside, you're bang on with identifying problems that emerge from the harvesting (as you so aptly describe it) artists' creative knowledge by organizations vested in BAH, and severely imbalanced valences. In fact, your description of "system/organization that artists work in (and one that social activists work in, too) that does not necessarily have walls, but influences their learning deeply, overtly and covertly" is precisely captured by Valence Theory, and is part of the reason I'm doing this investigation.

Yeah, it's all included, and most certainly the collaborative program would welcome anyone with such interests to come to do an M.Ed., M.A., or Ph.D. degree with us.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there's a semantic error in my description, but what can you expect of an 'independent scholar' who has few folks who give me such feedback, or even engage in dialogue at this level on these issues. See why I love your blog? And although I live in Vancouver, I'll keep an eye on that program and put my intention out there..