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Community Learning for Local Change - A blended learning model
Community interaction in Lahemaa, Estonia, May 2018

Funding period: 09/2018 - 08/2021

Project objectives and rationale

The EU’s renewed higher education agenda suggests countering the growing polarisation of our societies and distrust of democratic institutions (and) calls on everyone -including higher education staff and students- to engage more actively with the communities around. And further: higher education institutions are not ivory towers, but civic-minded learning communities’ connected to their environment. The Community Learning for Local Change project is designed to address these challenges.

Our consortium will develop, implement and test a new approach to promote creativity, entrepreneurial thinking and skills for designing innovation in close cooperation with the communities in which the universities are embedded. This will be achieved by two core activities:

  1. Our Community Innovation Labs will provide a transdisciplinary framework for students, teachers and the community to collaborate on issues that really matter locally. Our labs will allow for a multi-faceted understanding of what the local challenges are and thus provide students with a realistic analysis of the change potential. Social entrepreneurship is the guiding principle here, aiming at merging social, environmental and economic sustainability.
  2. We will expand an existing online course on Social Entrepreneurship with a new component focussing on the start-up phase. This will happen in synergy with the community innovation labs as starting points for co-creation and co-founding. Involving the community as equal partners in both our online and face-to-face learning activities will contribute to breaking up the ivory tower of academia.

Our focus on developing entrepreneurial approaches with civil society partners supports another important topic of the EU’s renewed HE agenda: People’s capacities to be entrepreneurial, manage complex information, think autonomously and creatively, use resources, including digital ones, smartly, communicate effectively and be resilient are more crucial than ever. Our aim is to foster these competences not only among our staff and students, but to transfer these skills to the civil society that surrounds us.

Target groups

The project is addressed to an interdisciplinary target group of educators, students and young professionals in the fields of economics, business administration, geography, agriculture, regional development, urban/landscape planning. Next to the academic audience we actively involve local community members and stakeholder in our community innovation labs.

Project Activities

  • Linking the partner universities in Bucharest, Nürtingen, Arnhem and Tartu to local communities by setting up Community Innovation Labs.
  • Implementation of blended learning activities on the subject of social innovation in combination with local workshops organised alternately by three of the consortium partners.
  • Development and publication of online course materials and an online course concept titled 'From Idea Generation to Start-Up' (Output 1)
  • The Social Entrepreneurship Community Learning Model(Output 2). This output will document the partnerships’ learning experience from the Community Innovation Labs in order to share relevant knowledge about how universities can partner and collaborate fruitfully with their community environment to co-create and co-initiate social businesses.

ERASMUS+ Programme and the German National Agency

The Community Learning for Local Change Project has been (partially) funded by the ERASMUS+ grant program of the European Union under grant no.2018-1-DE01-KA203-004227. Neither the European Commission nor the project's national funding agency are responsible for the content or liable for any losses or damage resulting of the use of these resources.
The EU grant of 386.345,00 Euro from the ERASMUS+ programme has been issued by the National Agency for University Cooperation of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).