The concept of the learning region is central to the way of problem-solving. Like 'lifelong learning' the term is used variously and carelessly. This book explores the meaning and importance of the learning region. Not all universities warm to such local-regional engagement. The unwise pride of global forces and nations undermines it; but even the most prestigious and 'global' university has a local footprint and ever-watchful neighbours. The book arises from the work of PASCAL, an international non-governmental network Observatory. Its name exploits echoes of philosophical depth as well as technical modernity of language, taking the concepts of Place, Social Capital and Learning together with the vital connecting conjunctions of And, to define its mission. At the heart of the story is PASCAL's experience of working with multiple regions and their universities on their experience with engagement. The book examines in turn several central strands mainly of policy but also of process that are illuminated by the PASCAL Universities and Regional Engagement (PURE) project. The PURE processes and outcomes, despite limitations and severe disruption by forces located outside the region and often too the nation, show the potential gain from international networking and shared activities. The book also discusses internal arrangements within the administration before turning to external relations: both with the university and tertiary sector and with other stakeholders in the private and third sectors. Regional innovation systems require entrepreneurialism inside government, higher education and training, as well as within industry from small and medium enterprises to multinationals.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book arises from the work of International Observatory on Place Management, Social Capital and Learning (PASCAL), an international non-governmental network Observatory. It examines the central themes and the large issues which preoccupy us: first the 'global problematique' and the changing structure of society and its management; then the two key partners in engagement: the local region and the university. The book also examines several central strands mainly of policy but also of process that are illuminated by the PASCAL Universities and Regional Engagement (PURE) project. Much of the vocational and professional development work of universities is for non-profit roles in public life and civil society. These trends arouse widely shared deep concerns about 'the death of the public university' and the desertion of disinterested inquiry and education for the public good.
Tectonic grinding occurs as political power, based in economic success, moves between the large regions, contributing to the sense of global problematique. In 2007-2008, diverse regions volunteered to undertake action research to understand and strengthen the contribution of their higher education institutions (HEIs) to regional development. International Observatory on Place Management, Social Capital and Learning (PASCAL) as a flexible non-governmental organisation (NGO) also includes regions defined locally, for example by patterns of HEI catchment and provision, as well as official sub-national and sub-State administrative regions. Culture and values cannot be changed by local regions, or by universities, alone. Regional governance that draws on and draws together the commitment and resources of local stakeholders, including higher education, may make the attempt more realistically.
This chapter examines the three main elements distinguished in modern society: the public or first sector; the private or second sector, meaning industry and commerce; and the voluntary, non-governmental or not-for-profit third sector, now often referred to as civil society. It considers the changing identities and stereotypes of each, their interconnectedness and their relationships. The rising importance and effective governance of the third sector must now be included in any study like this, the more so while political philosophy inclines towards 'big market, small state'. The implications for governance and the public sector are profound. The third sector has been of rising importance, in a context of more global complexity, including the global financial crisis (GFC) and the ecological crisis. The small and medium enterprise (SME) sector often provides a high proportion of local employment, one where the need for local higher education training, support and expertise is most evident.
Engagement between a region and a university is a kind of mixed marriage. It can be difficult to bring and keep together in productive union two very different partners. This chapter considers the first of these two partners: the region. Local regions have much less formal power and lower status than national governments, whose policies, whims and political accidents circumscribe what they can do. In the large-region context the engagement of higher education with (local) regional development takes different forms, depending on the cultures, histories and economies of the world regions. Higher education is a universally acknowledged main seat of learning. Yet learning is also increasingly important in the region, at least in the sense that lifelong learning in 'the learning region' has become an almost automatic policy precept.
This chapter shows why crisis in higher education (HE) and the demise of the public university are so much in the air. Two essential similar questions arise in relation to the other main partner in the chapter, higher education: what is the scope of HE and how do national and global forces affect the situation? New ideas and language for the HE sector include the concept of 'tertiary', embracing all post-secondary education, training and human resource development (HRD). Skills-oriented tertiary colleges as well as universities may think and recruit internationally; seeking market niches where they can do well. In some countries they also influence national policy and behaviour for whole tertiary systems across all institutional types. The global and national policy environments of the early twenty-first century have generally become less hospitable to regional engagement, even while the need becomes more pressing.
This chapter explains what led to a book drawing on the work of the PASCAL Universities and Regional Engagement (PURE) project as a main source: action-research field-experience intended to enhance good practice, which involved regions participating on four continents. It sketches the PURE project and foreshadows the chapters that follow. These examine and draw lessons from different dimensions of the work of the project. The idea of the PURE project arose from Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) work reported and reviewed at a large international meeting in Valencia. OCED reported and reviewed at a large immediately after that at PASCAL's own international conference at Pecs in Hungary. PASCAL's original intention was to work with at least some of the fourteen regions involved in the OECD cycle, and connect them with other regions new to such work.
This chapter explores the significance of the possible contribution by universities to social inclusion and active citizenship. It notes the influence of different policy agendas and acknowledges the insights of other studies. However, it draws particularly on the learning from the PASCAL Universities and Regional Engagement (PURE) studies across several regions to highlight the different kinds of contributions which can be made by universities. The PURE project has demonstrated an ordinary array of regional and community engagement activities, many of which are aimed in one way or another at contributing to social justice, increasing social cohesion and strengthening democracy. Online delivery is of increasing importance, and in Northern Illinois the PURE project identified the importance of network learning which offers various means of gaining access to information. Governments establish diverse policy settings within which their higher education institutions must then operate.
The second GreenMetric Ranking of World Universities was announced by Universitas Indonesia. its objective was allowing 'universities in both the developed and developing world to compare their efforts towards campus sustainability and environment friendly university management'. A number of insights into the issue of green jobs and green skills emerged in particular during the PASCAL Universities and Regional Engagement (PURE) in the city of Melbourne. Enhancing community awareness about green issues through public education for the greening of values, expectations and behaviour is a dimension of lifelong learning and active citizenship. Offering core university teaching and learning that addresses sustainability issues is evident within many PURE regions. Orr was one of the first to argue that for the challenges of sustainable development to be addressed ecological literacy must be embedded across the curriculum and into all university operations.
Culture and creativity covers a wide range of activities that can be the basis for contributions by universities to their cities and regions. These range from those that are very small in scale, such as offering courses focused on the interests of particular communities, to research and development support for events of the highest international significance. The initiatives can support social inclusion for excluded groups, and can be the catalyst for innovation and be a very significant part of the economic future of many regions. Promoting the traditions, culture and languages of various ethnic groups is a prominent part of the work of many regions. The preservation of cultural environments and turning cultural heritage into visitor attractions are important factors for regional development and growth. The PASCAL Universities and Regional Engagement (PURE) study created the awareness of possibilities and the creation within the University of a 'culture' team.