Learning for sustainability (LfS) site update (September 2011)
Focus: complexity, engagement and adaptation
The Learning for Sustainability site - http://learningforsustainability.net - brings together resources that help address the social and capacity building aspects of managing collective interests within complex and adapting systems. The site highlights the wide range of social skills and processes that are needed to support constructive collaboration, and indicates how these skills and processes can be interwoven to achieve more integrated and effective outcomes. This site brings links to several hundred annotated on-line resources from different sectors and geographic areas together in one easy to access site.
This portal site has been updated on an ongoing basis over the past few months. This newsletter provides a brief introduction to new resources that have been added. In the reading section links are provided to three useful literature reviews, covering partnerships, leadership and participation respectively.
- Site structure
- Interesting reading: Recent reports and research papers
- Thoughts for the day
- Subscribing and unsubscribing
- Other ideas for browsing and reading
The major structural change that readers will note is that the core social learning module has been amended to include five strands. A page on systems thinking has been added. This means the five strands are now systems thinking (undertanding complexity and seeing the bigger picture), building networks (forming new partnerships across stakeholder groups), encouraging dialogue (processes for good communication and negotiation), knowledge management (sharing knowledge and expertise within and across organizations and stakeholder groups), and evaluation and reflection (adaptively managing and supporting strategic and incremental change). Information and links on each of these areas are directly available from the "social learning" link in navigation menu on the left.
The featured links for this issue are drawn from some of the new links added recently. As the pages in this portal shows there is a lot of really good material available … so this newsletter section is is by no means intended as an award-type list, it just lists some recent additions that are good sites to share. The new icon - - indicates material that has been published in recent months.
- Taking responsibility for complexity This ODI briefing paper by Harry Jones is subtitled: When is a policy problem complex, why does it matter, and how can it be tackled? It builds on ODI research over three years to review the implications of complexity for policy and programme implementation. It has three aims: to give readers the tools to decide when a problem is complex, outline why this matters, and provide guidance on how to achieve results in the face of complexity. Click here for >> more resources on managing complex systems >>.
- Liberating structures: A new pattern language for engagement This recent OD Practitioner paper by Lisa Kimball looks at how managers can generate meaningful engagement that constructively transforms work and organizations. She acknowledges how employee engagement, customer engagement, and stakeholder engagement have become common terms. But, as she points out, too often, the term feels meaningless — most people do not know where to start to make it happen. To facilitate significant, transformative changes in organizations we need to make a profound change in how people interact, not just at off sites and other special occasion meetings, but in the weekly team meetings, the ad hoc design sessions, and problem solving get togethers that make up daily life in organizations. Click here for >> more resources on participation and engagement >>.
- Forests and Climate Change in Latin America: Linking Adaptation and Mitigation Climate change can be addressed by mitigation (reducing the sources or enhancing the sinks of greenhouse gases) and adaptation (reducing the impacts of climate change). Mitigation and adaptation present two fundamentally dissimilar approaches whose differences are now well documented. Forest ecosystems play an important role in both adaptation and mitigation and there is a need to explore the linkages between these two options in order to understand their trade-offs and synergies. This paper by Bruno Locatelli and colleagues presents examples of linkages between adaptation and mitigation in Latin American forests. Through case studies, the authors investigate the approaches and reasons for integrating adaptation into mitigation projects or mitigation into adaptation projects. They also analyze the opportunities for mainstreaming adaptation–mitigation linkages into forest or climate change policies. Click here for >> more resources on adaptation >>.
- The Role of ICT in Building Communities and Social Capital The impact of ICT on community interaction and social capital has been long debated, with arguments and research both for and against. This paper by the Australian Government's Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts examines the debate around the impact of ICT and argues that ICT supplements and transforms social capital rather than diminishing it. Click here for >> more resources on capacity building and social capital >> and here for >> more resources on the Internet and social capital >>.
- "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." -- Maya Angelou
- "Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results." -- Anon.
- "Thinking is the hardest work there is. That is why so few people engage in it." -- Henry Ford
- "Participation is not something that can be conjured up or created artificially ... Participation is a feeling on the part of the people, not just the mechanical act of being called in to take part in discussions." -- Lawrence, P.R. (1954 May-June). "How to Deal with Resistance to Change" Harvard Business Review, 32(3), pp. 49-57.
Please forward this site to interested colleagues. Feedback is welcomed, and visitors are encouraged to suggest sites to add. Thanks to those of you who have pointed to papers and other material for inclusion, and sharing among the wider global community of practice in this area. During 2009 the site averaged around 450 visitors each day, with the highest number of visits in any one day being in excess of 1500.
Newsletter postings advise of major changes and additions to this site, and will be sent out as an LfS site update e-mail to those of you who wish every couple of months. These postings will indicate the major changes on the site during that time. Each posting will also include links to 5-6 feature articles, so it is a good way to gain an overview of material in this area which cuts across the health, environment and development sectors. Just click here to add your name to this list through the newsletter update subscription page. If you have received this newsletter electronically and you wish to unsubscribe you can also do this from the unsubscribe link at the bottom. If all else fails just contact me directly through the contact email form page, or use the e-mail link provided in the footer of this page.
If you have time to browse the web then visit some of the sites featured via the Guardian Environment Network. The network connects sites from across the globe that provide high-quality news, opinion, advice, blogs, data and tools. And as the site managers believe information should lead to action, so the network also includes selected campaigns. If you want to use the Internet to donate then you may also be interested in the following links to sites that let you help just by using click throughs or donating to support different causes. You choose the cause, and it only takes a few minutes of your time.
And if you want some real book reading, or to buy a gift for yourself or someone else, then visit Amazon. Below I have listed books that have been highlighted through the site or mentioned on the related IntSci - Integrated science for sustainability discussion forum.