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International Symposium on Learning Communities

Fòrum Universal de las Culturas - Barcelona 2004

Barcelona, Spain, 5 and 6 October 2001


LDI participated in and contributed to the International Symposium on Learning Communities held on October 5 and 6, 2001, in Barcelona, Spain. The symposium was one of the preparatory activities for the Universal Forum of Cultures - Barcelona 2004. The organizers of the symposium noted in their invitation letter the importance of analyzing the "learning community" concept from various angles. "Learning communities and educational networks are some of the most promising topics for 21st century education, which is why they are the core theme of the education project of the Universal Forum of Culture - Barcelona 2004." The symposium thus aimed at preparing for two major education events: a World Conference on Learning Communities and a Unesco Education Summit, both of which are foreseen to take place in the context of the 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures. The International Symposium on Learning Communities was an occasion to consider new trends, challenges and scenarios, both locally and globally. Approximately 100 people from around the world participated in it.

The Universal Forum of Cultures is a new international event focussing on the cultures of the world. The aim of the Universal Forum of Cultures is to encourage dialogue on a world-wide scale. Its ambition is to contribute to a discernible advancement of civic and democratic values articulated around three major themes: intercultural dialogue, peace construction and sustainable development. To attain that objective, the Forum has started working on one of the fields that it considers essential to the promotion of those values: education.

The 186 Member States of UNESCO gave their unanimous support to the Universal Forum of Cultures project at its 29th General Conference. The project is a joint initiative of the Spanish Government, the Catalan Autonomous Government, and the Barcelona City Council, with Unesco as the main partner.

The Symposium on Learning Communities was organized around four broad areas of thought:

1- The classroom as a Learning Community
2- The educational institution as a Learning Community
3- The territory as a Learning Community
4- Learning Communities in a virtual network

Workshops were organised for each of the four areas mentioned. The presentations and conclusions of the Symposium will be published in four languages (Spanish, English, French and Catalan) and circulated widely. A preliminary document is available on the Web site of the Universal Forum.

A LDI paper on "Learning communities: Wholeness and partness, autonomy and dependence in the learning ecology," authored by Jan Visser, served as an input to the discussions in Barcelona. It was selected to be presented, together with two other contributions, as part of the inaugural plenary session on October 5, 2001.