Learning Journeys change behavior and create the conditions for new practices to be implemented. Learning journeys are especially effective at fostering core changes, such as examining the role that power and privilege plays in keeping groups from fully achieving their mission, or in making allies between groups of different backgrounds, class and culture.
They differ from workshops and retreats in fundamental ways: they are sustained place-based experiences, face-to-face and virtual, over 12-18 months among the same group of people who learn from each other, encouraged by others with particular knowledge and experience who enter the learning journey to enable a group to see their world through different lens.
I come to the learning journey model after twenty years of collaboration designing learning curricula that help people and organizations move toward a new vision for their work and the enactment of a new expression of values.
Core elements of Learning Journeys include:
- Travel to and deep engagement with places that embody the challenge or the response that is needed. Experience over theory.
- Using a different lens to see their own world
- Exploring the history of human experience in that place to better understand and respond to the present day conditions
- Peer-to-peer learning
- Sustained Inquiry
What’s an example of a learning Journey and how did it create change for them?
The Community Conservation Learning Journey launched in January 2015 and concluded in June, 2016 and was made up of the leadership teams of 6 land trusts from around the country: Vermont Land Trust, Land Trust Alliance, Cacapon and Lost River Land Trust, The Western Reserve Conservancy, The Big Sur Land Trust and the Little Traverse Conservancy and it was facilitated by Danyelle O’Hara and myself. The purpose was to re-examine their conservation work through a lens of power in order to build the skills and understandings that might enable them to collaborate with community groups in a more reciprocal and authentic way. Each group came into the learning journey will different aspirations and goals. Some were looking for strategic ways to make their conservation more relevant and last longer, and others were interested in evolving their organizations to be in service to community’s in new ways.
Here are the guiding questions that were taken up in each of the four site visits.
A full report from the group about what they experienced and learned will be posted here in late September, 2016.
What are the current Learning Journeys being offered?
First Light Learning Journey: www. firstlightlearningjourney.net The purpose of First Light Learning Journey is to foster awareness and points of relationship between Native and non-Native conservationists that will lead directly to expanded access to land and water natural and cultural resources for Wabanaki people, who today have access to less than 1% of the land that once supported their place-based cultures. Read a full description here.
How are learning Journeys created?
Colleagues and I provide curriculum, facilitation and -in some cases – the funding to support a place-based group’s desires to learn together.
Foundations come to us to create learning journeys for their grantees. Alternatively, groups of organizations come to us with learning objectives that we help to implement. In some cases, such as the Community Conservation Learning Journey, the groups that have come together to learn fund the learning journey themselves.
In short, there are many different ways that learning journeys form. We respond to them all with thoughts, advice and experience.
New learning journeys are created and launched every year to build peoples’ capacities and awareness confront specific challenges and to transform situations.
This is the Community Conservation Learning Journey. 2016
The purpose of the Community Conservation Learning Journey was to convene and help to create a learning community of 20 professionals from 6 land trusts who are moving ahead in different ways with community conservation. Through a series of four site visits and multiple conversations, we explored community conservation, its practices, the spectrum of success and failure, to-date, through the lenses of community engagement and social dynamics, such as power and privilege.