Learning Change

Learning Change Project: 8 Blogs, +7500 Readings

Community Service-learning and Cultural-historical Activity Theory

This paper explores the potential of cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT), to provide new insights into community service-learning (CSL) in higher education. While CSL literature acknowledges the influences of John Dewey and Paolo Freire, discussion of the potential contribution of cultural-historical activity theory, rooted in the work of psychologist Lev Vygotsky, is noticeably absent. This paper addresses this gap by examining four assumptions associated with activity theory: the rejection of a theory/practice divide, the development of knowledge as a social collaborative activity, the focus on contradictions in and across activity systems, and the interventionist approach aimed at transformation.

The preceding discussion asserts that CHAT provides useful theoretical tools for thinking about CSL in terms of activity systems. Engeström’s work, in particular, directs our attention to the intersecting activity systems involving students, instructors, and community partners in higher education and not-for-profit organizations. The four key assumptions of CHAT discussed above are consistent with the goals of CSL and help to reinforce it as a critical and reflexive pedagogy.


Social Entrepreneurship: A Different Perspective

Entrepreneurship has long been acknowledged as a major force for economic development, however, only recently has the important role social entrepreneurship plays in contributing toward both economic and social wellbeing been recognized. Nevertheless, there is still no singular established definition on social entrepreneurship has been agreed upon. Many scholars believed that social entrepreneurship is exclusively for non-profit organizations that solely focus on social missions, however, the limited view of social entrepreneurship is argued and discussed in this paper. Thus this paper reviews the meaning of social entrepreneurship from various authors and extends the scope of social entrepreneurship from the limited and exclusive understanding towards a lateral and extended view, which includes hybrid organization that has both financial and social goals.


Written by Giorgio Bertini

February 9, 2016 at 6:58 pm

Social Entrepreneurship and Complexity Science – New Collaboration

This paper looks at how ideas, constructs, methods and insights coming out of systems thinking and the sciences of complex systems can be applied to the study of social entrepreneurship. At present, there is  no one general theoretical perspective that seeks to define social entrepreneurship in complex systems terms nor to explain how such a perspective can contribute to the generation of positive social outcomes. To remedy this, we propose ways that complexity theory can be used to develop a useful, and we hope, more practical theory. In particular, we explore how complexity ideas might be used to develop a robust theory of social entrepreneurial dynamics from the interrelated theoretical lenses offered in the complexity science approaches of social network theory, the study of emergence in self-organizing systems, complex adaptive systems theory, and nonlinear dynamical systems theory. After describing various possibilities, some hopeful thoughts on the future of the field are offered, particularly a call for initiating evolving partnerships among complexity scientists and social entrepreneurial practitioners and theorists.


Complexity, Innovation, and Development: Schumpeter Revisited

The role of innovation and entrepreneurship is increasingly getting policy attention in emerging countries. A growing body of literature is deriving its inspiration from the work of Joseph Schumpeter. His seminal 1911 book, The Theory of Economic Development, outlined a general framework for understanding the role of innovation and entrepreneurship in economic transformation. Despite Schumpeter’s influence on economic policies in industrialized countries, there has been little application of his work in emerging countries. On surface, the failure to apply Schumpeter’s ideas to emerging countries appears to be an intellectual oversight. To the contrary, this paper argues that the application of Schumpeter’s ideas to emerging countries was debated through the 1950s, but early architects of development studies deemed it to be irrelevant. The core of the rejection was an epistemological clash between Schumpeter’s systems approach to economic transformation and that of his critics who adhered to a more static, linear, and incremental view of economic change. Thus, Schumpeter’s central themes of innovation and entrepreneurship focused on endogenous transformation and evolution of economies, while his critics, who focused on the importance of central planning, relied on equilibrium models reflected in the role of bureaucracies as economic sources of stability.


Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect, and Inspire

The first book to identify and explore Creative Intelligence as a new form of cultural literacy and a method for driving innovation and sparking start-up capitalism. The world is quickly changing in ways we find hard to comprehend. Conventional methods of dealing with problems have become outmoded. To be successful, one can’t just be good; one must also be a creator, a maker, and a doer. In Creative Intelligence, innovation expert Bruce Nussbaum charts the making of a new literacy — Creative Intelligence, or CQ. From corporate CEOs trying to parse the confusing matrix of global business to K–12 teachers attempting to reach bored kids in classrooms, Nussbaum shows how CQ can become a powerful method for devising solutions and a practical antidote to uncertainty and complexity. Nussbaum investigates how people, organizations, and nations are learning to be more creative, and the ways in which those groups are enhancing their CQ. He offers five new creative competencies — Knowledge Mining, Framing, Playing, Making, and Pivoting — to help individuals and organizations learn to create routinely and well. Smart and eye-opening, Creative Intelligence helps boost creative capacity and inspires us to connect our creative output with a new type of economic system called Indie Capitalism, where creativity is the source of economic value; entrepreneurs drive growth; and social networks are the building blocks of the economy.


Read also: Amplifying Creativity

Written by Giorgio Bertini

February 8, 2016 at 12:25 pm

The Long Evolutionary History of Play

Play has long been considered an enigmatic behavior that is hard to define, but having many putative functions difficult to confirm. This situation is changing quite rapidly in recent years. This introduction to a special issue on play provides some general background, historical and contemporary, on the recognition and phylogenetic aspects of play, along with a discussion on the adaptive functions of play and some recent research findings that might facilitate or extend future research.

In this short introduction I have tried to present a few selective comments on the fascinating phenomena of play. It is clear that play in a wide variety of species is being increasingly studied in detail by many laboratories. Although disparate phenomena at one level, I think it important that those working on social play keep up with the literature on other types of play and vice versa. Similarly, those working on play in children should know what is being done in primate play and those working with nonhuman primates should keep up with those working on carnivores, rodents, birds, and nontraditional species. Again, such interests need to be reciprocated. Play research, as an interdisciplinary field, benefits greatly from findings in many other fields and researchers need to keep abreast of these trends and accommodate new theoretical and methodological approaches that have, and will continue to, enrich our understanding.


Written by Giorgio Bertini

February 7, 2016 at 10:22 pm

Design for Sharing

A sustainable society is one in which we choose positive behaviours that make us feel happier, more connected and more disposed to help others. Sharing is one such activity and it has the benefit that, as well as being a positive action that carries with it intrinsic appeal, it can also support a society that buys, consumes and wastes less as a by-product. This report, part of the work of the Sustainable Society Network, offers insights from three linked studies into sharing practices and concludes with design recommendations for different kinds of sustainability based on sharing. We look at three contexts: grass-roots initiatives within walking distance of a project researcher’s home; sharing activities undertaken by researchers’ Facebook ‘friends’; and what a range of digital service producers are making to support sharing across the internet. In this way, we are able to compare sharing in ordinary life, as it happens among committed volunteers in small organisations; for digitally-active individuals; and in the hands of digital entrepreneurs. We hold these contexts up to consideration against different understandings of sustainability to explore the impact of different kinds of design on factors such as social, environmental and economic viability and resourcefulness. So it seems an apt time to ask what kind of economy is being promoted by the sharing economy and how this tallies with what we found on the ground.


Written by Giorgio Bertini

February 7, 2016 at 7:44 pm

Anthropocentrism is not the first step in Children’s reasoning about the Natural World

What is the relation between human and nonhuman animals? As adults, we construe this relation flexibly, depending in part on the situation at hand. From a biological perspective, we acknowledge the status of humans as one species among many (as in Western science), but at the same time may adopt other perspectives, including an anthropocentric perspective in which human characteristics are attributed to nonhuman animals (as in fables and popular media). How do these perspectives develop? The predominant view in developmental cognitive science is that young children universally possess only one markedly anthropocentric vantage point, and must undergo fundamental conceptual change, overturning their initially human-centered framework before they can acquire a distinctly biological framework. Evidence from two experiments challenges this view. By developing a task that allows us to test children as young as 3 years of age, we are able to demonstrate that anthropocentrism is not the first developmental step in children’s reasoning about the biological world. Although urban 5-year-olds adopt an anthropocentric perspective, replicating previous reports, 3-year-olds show no hint of  anthropocentrism. This suggests a previously unexplored model of development: Anthropocentrism is not an initial step in conceptual development, but is instead an acquired perspective, one that emerges between 3 and 5 years of age in children raised in urban environments.


Read also: Young Infants have Biological Expectations about Animals

Written by Giorgio Bertini

February 7, 2016 at 12:33 pm

The effects of Bilingual growth on Toddlers’ executive function

The mastery of two languages provides bilingual speakers with cognitive benefits over monolinguals, particularly on cognitive flexibility and selective attention. However, extant research is limited to comparisons between monolinguals and bilinguals at a single point in time. This study investigated whether growth in bilingual proficiency, as shown by an increased number of translation equivalents (TEs) over a 7-month period, improves executive function. We hypothesized that bilingual toddlers with a larger increase of TEs would have more practice in switching across lexical systems, boosting executive function abilities. Expressive vocabulary and TEs were assessed at 24 and 31 months of age. A battery of tasks, including conflict, delay, and working memory tasks, was administered at 31 months. As expected, we observed a task-specific advantage in inhibitory control in bilinguals. More important, within the bilingual group, larger increases in the number of TEs predicted better performance on conflict tasks but not on delay tasks. This unique longitudinal design confirms the relation between executive function and early bilingualism.


Written by Giorgio Bertini

February 3, 2016 at 8:40 pm

The Good Life: Unifying the Philosophy and Psychology of Well-being

Philosophers defend theories of what well-being is but ignore what psychologists have learned about it, while psychologists learn about well-being but lack a theory of what it is. In The Good Life, Michael Bishop brings together these complementary investigations and proposes a powerful, new theory for understanding well-being.

The network theory holds that to have well-being is to be “stuck” in a self-perpetuating cycle of positive emotions, attitudes, traits and accomplishments. For someone with well-being, these states — states such as joy and contentment, optimism and adventurousness, extraversion and perseverance, strong relationships, professional success and good health — build upon and foster each other. They form a kind of positive causal network (PCN), so that a person high in well-being finds herself in a positive cycle or “groove.” A person with a lesser degree of well-being might possess only fragments of such a network — some positive feelings, attitudes, traits or successes, but not enough to kick start a full-blown, self-perpetuating network.

Although recent years have seen an explosion of psychological research into well-being, this discipline, often called Positive Psychology, has no consensus definition. The network theory provides a new framework for understanding Positive Psychology. When psychologists investigate correlations and causal connections among positive emotions, attitudes, traits, and accomplishments, they are studying the structure of PCNs. And when they identify states that establish, strengthen or extinguish PCNs, they are studying the dynamics of PCNs. Positive Psychology, then, is the study of the structure and dynamics of positive causal networks.

The Good Life represents a new, inclusive approach to the study of well-being, an approach committed to the proposition that discovering the nature of well-being requires the knowledge and skills of both the philosopher in her armchair and the scientist in her lab. The resulting theory provides a powerful, unified foundation for future scientific and philosophical investigations into well-being and the good life.


Read also: Review

Written by Giorgio Bertini

February 3, 2016 at 6:42 pm


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