Facilitating communities of practice as social learning systems: A case study of trialling sustainable sanitation at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

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Journal Article
Knowledge Management Research and Practice, 2017, 15 (3), pp. 391 - 399
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© 2017 The OR Society. While social learning is advocated as critical for inducing large-scale shifts toward sustainability, methodological issues associated with designing the opportunities for social learning or guidelines for practitioners seeking to facilitate such learning in cross-disciplinary teams working on sustainability-oriented projects are lacking. This paper draws on a two-year pilot project in Sydney, in which government, industry and academic partners collaborated to learn about the development potential of urine diversion (UD) systems in practice. The concept of 'Communities of Practice' was used to identify inherent challenges and opportunities for social learning. An outcome of the project has been the identification of overarching principles for designing opportunities for social learning in such projects, particularly the need (1) to facilitate community-oriented leadership, (2) to develop strategic exercises for collaborative engagement and (3) involvement of actors beyond the boundaries of the experiment to introduce novelty, diversity and cumulative learning opportunities.
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