Landscapes of practices, social learning systems and rural innovation

Blackmore, Chris (2012). Landscapes of practices, social learning systems and rural innovation. In: The 10th European IFSA symposium: Producing and Reproducing Farming Systems: New Modes of Organisation for Sustainable Food Systems of Tomorrow, 1-4 Jul 2012, Aarhus, Denmark.



Wenger (1998) claimed that “the learning and innovation potential of a social learning system lies in its configuration of strong core practices and active boundary processes”. Wenger, well known for his work on Communities of Practices, has more recently further developed the related concept of a ‘Landscape of Practices’ (Wenger 2010) which has been found to be meaningful by some Open University students working towards their Masters qualifications in Systems Thinking in Practice. These students have used skills developed in systems thinking to review their future trajectories, not just within one or two communities of practice but across boundaries. This paper draws on insights from Wenger and from the Open University’s recent work on social learning systems and managing systemic change to consider landscapes of practices of relevance to rural innovation and the contribution this concept might make to the discourse on systems thinking and practice in rural innovation. It also provides examples of some of the boundary processes of communities engaged in rural innovation and raises questions about how their learning and innovation potential might be enhanced.

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