New Publication | Transforming with a Soft Touch: Comparing Four Learning Networks

Our lab group is proud to announce the release of a new peer-reviewed article, a collaboration between the majority of our group and synthesizing the threads of work we are each engaged in. You can find the abstract and permanent link below. Feel free to reach out to us with feedback or questions!


In this paper, we consider how learning networks build capacity for system transformation. We define learning networks as inter-organizational voluntary collaboratives that nurture professional expertise and describe their potential to catalyse systemic change by disrupting old habits, fostering new relationships, and providing freedom to experiment. We conducted a parallel study of four learning networks, which vary in age since founding from 2 to 25 years, applying three exploratory questions across our cases. We conclude by considering how learning networks can foster transformative capacity within social-ecological systems when they are designed and facilitated with a soft touch so that network members in different sites have the freedom to define their place and purpose within their system, as well as their role in bringing about a desired transformation. We suggest that system transformation is not just the sum of similar efforts at different sites and scales or a least common denominator between them but is emergent from interaction between the partially shared understandings of actors within and between sites, and across network scales. A well-designed network is a learning system that encompasses these multiple perspectives, and good netweaving mediates different ways of system knowing without collapsing them into one perspective. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Transforming with a Soft Touch: Comparing Four Learning Networks – Goldstein et al. – 2017 – Systems Research and Behavioral Science – Wiley Online Library

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