Trends in Learning Region/City development

With the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities now accelerating into implementation after successful launches of the Beijing Declaration last October, the learning city scene is becoming more diverse and interesting. Several City networks have published their own set of indicators, many of them complementary to the GNLC's own 'key features' and PASCAL has branched out from PIE (Pascal International Exchanges) to launch 5 new learning city sites concentrating on specific aspects of learning city development. The 'entrepreneurial learning city' led by Swansea in the UK is progressing after a successful symposium in Swansea in April, while the ECCOWELL learning city initiative celebrated its third year at Cork, Ireland, with a week long lifelong learning festival in March. The 'Urban/Rural Learning City/region' site invites contributions from those cities which wish to include their wider hinterland. The 'Inclusive Learning City' focuses on all matters related to social inclusion in cities and has posted its discussion document on the PASCAL site at LearningCities2020.org as has the site on 'Harnessing cultural policies in building sustainable learning cities'. Such developments show a trend towards a more flexible appreciation of the power of learning cities to harness lifelong learning concepts in the service of their own cities, but with a particularity that makes it more acceptable to their longer term aims. None of them of course dilute the central tenet that learning provides the fuel for learning city growth and sustainable development. As one speaker at the Swansea seminar said 'No city will be the same in 2020 as it is now in 2014 and in 2030 it will be even more different. It has to learn to adapt to change and to educate its citizens to cope with it. Whether that city will be successful in the future is influenced mainly by the decisions that are made now. We must all therefore live, at least to some degree, in the future.' Norman Longworth

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