Building on my prior research study on women and active citizenship, this study was funded by the Canadian Council on Learning to explore connections between lifelong learning, citizenship, and community based organizations. Case studies of six different grassroots (citizen initiated) community based organizations in different regions across Canada included a review of their written materials and websites, interviews with two or three members of the organization, and a site visit. In addition, several interviews with “key informants” – leaders in the volunteer, not for profit sector, politicians at different levels of government, and policy makers were conducted to learn more about their perspectives on creating linkages between citizens, community based organizations and government.
There are multiple and complicated factors that affect learning for an active and engaged citizenry. Cutbacks to the not for profit sector undermine opportunities for citizen engagement, at the same time as there are increasing concerns that volunteerism is eroding. Opportunities for organizations and government to connect are complicated by funding mechanisms that discourage advocacy in community based organizations. Competition between organizations for limited resources around both funding and volunteers tends to undermine collaboration.
Yet there are some strategies to fostering a more networked approach towards governance. These include developing programs for volunteer training and participation as well as supports for organizations and policies that can assist with networking and advocacy. Adult educators may help facilitate a creative exploration of ways in which citizens, community based groups, and politicians can communicate effectively with one another.
More detailed results of the study are explained in the attached Summary Report.
Gouthro, P.A., Grace, A.P. & Guo, S. (2010). Canadian eh? Issues around learning, identity and citizenship in Canada. Canadian Association for the Study of Adult Education (CASAE). Concordia University, Montreal, QC.
Click here for paper
Gouthro, P.A. (2009). Lifelong learning and citizenship: Exploring the complicated question of what it means to be Canadian. Canadian Association for the Study of Adult Education (CASAE). Carleton University, Ottawa, ON. Click here for paper
Gouthro, P.A. (2009). Adult learning for active citizenship: Exploring learning pathways around citizenship and participation in governance. Adult Education Research Conference (AERC). National Louis University, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Click here for paper
Gouthro, P.A. (2010). Women, learning and equity: Recognition non-linear life trajectories for women in political life and in higher education. In Jackson, S. (Ed). Innovations in lifelong learning: International perspectives on diversity, participation and vocational learning. London: Routledge.
Gouthro, P.A. (2012). Grassroots and governance: A critical analysis of possibilities for learning for active citizenship within community-based organizations. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education. 135, 51-59.
Gouthro, P.A. (2007). Active and inclusive citizenship for women: Democratic considerations for fostering lifelong learning. International Journal of Lifelong Education. 26(2), 143-154.