PASCAL and the PUREProject
The genesis and purpose of this volume
This chapter explains what led to a book drawing on the work of the PASCAL
PUREproject as a main source: action-research field-experience intended to
enhance good practice, which involved regions participating on four continents.
It sketches the PUREproject and foreshadows the chapters that follow. These
examine and draw lessons from different dimensions of the work of the project.
When the book was planned the intention was to write something accessible
to the diffuse and diverse people
The PUREProject and inter-regional learning
Introduction – the nature and spread of learning
The universal talent for learning was assumed by the organised community many
eras ago to belong in part beyond the family group. Schooling began as organised
learning required by the young. It was extended over time through young and
into early adult years. Informally in recent centuries, and in formal and at times
mandatory ways more recently, it has extended through much of the lifespan to
include the education and training of adults; in their own interest, and in
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.
Social inclusion and active citizenship
A deep-felt need
It is perhaps not surprising that social inclusion and active citizenship should
have been identified as a key theme by several of the regions participating in the
PUREproject. Even without the impact of the GFC, the past two decades have
been a period of considerable change as countries throughout the world, North
and South, have come to terms with the implications of new technologies which
have transformed the working environment as we have known it, and have led to
what David Harvey (1989) has
absence of joined up administrative and academic work in universities;
10 there are various examples of these different problems being overcome in
the PURE studies (see below) but the gap often remains wide and sustained
effort is needed to bridge it.
Readers keen to understand the PASCAL Universities and Regional Engagement – PURE – project may wish first to go to Chapter 5, which explains the
PUREproject and the PASCAL context. Before that the four chapters comprising
Part I examine the central themes and the large issues which preoccupy us: first
across institutions and regions, its purpose was not
the relative rating of one institution as being better or worse than another, but
on facilitating a process of identifying the areas where one institution might look
to learn from the outstanding performance of another on a particular indicator.
Hence, the PUREproject used university and regional benchmarking instruments to complement the more directly qualitative processes of CDGs and associated project activities. The focus of the benchmarking was on seeking to build a
dataset which could be used to share learning
’s view of their duties, much less to be
popular. Making time and freeing resources for anything non-urgent and developmental like building strong trust-based partnerships with universities takes a back
seat, as some PURE regions quickly discovered. The essential minimal conditions
for more than modest or token engagement may not exist.
A starting issue for the PUREproject was to ask about the kinds of regions
best fitted to engage with higher education, and to what effect. Is there any one
best kind of ‘engaging region’? Any finding would be conditioned by the higher
and with other stakeholders in the private
and third sectors.
Managing the local region
The internal dimension – managing the regional authority to engage better
The PUREproject like earlier OECD studies of regional development and HEIs
worked more with administrators than with elected politicians and their leaders
in the region. Occasionally a local or national minister would take part in an event
or meet the visiting consultative group; but the work was seen as a matter for
planners and administrators rather than a major policy initiative.
This reflects the low
. Nevertheless, the PUREproject has revealed many examples of university support for, and collaboration
with, not only individual firms, but regional efforts to improve their economic
base and to develop innovation systems.
Across the diversity of the PURE regions, ‘regional innovation’ became the
pure findings: leading policy issues
language which best linked the various threads which related to industrial change,
regional development and emerging occupational opportunities. It is not surprising
that this idea recurred so
sector. Real opportunities existed for HEIs to develop the
knowledge and skills of communities in the region for new markets in eco-tourism,
and organic and other specialised foods, in a connected way.
There were many examples within the PUREproject related to eco-tourism, and
the role of the university sector. Just one in the Norwegian county of Buskerud
illustrates the sorts of discussions that have occurred as a result of the visits by
our CDGs. In this county a partnership agreement, which the region has had with
Buskerud University College since 2009, sets out