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On the way to sustainability through social learning : an action research approach to 4H farms in Sweden

Samuelsson, Frida LU (2013) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM01 20131
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
The world is facing complex sustainability challenges, and the quest for a more sustainable world is characterized by uncertainty, both regarding goals and means. It is argued that this uncertainty requires a social learning process, where people collectively find shared problem perception and directions for sustainable solutions. The Swedish 4H farms have a great potential of being a platform for sustainability. Still, many farms are facing challenges and uncertainty about the future, and there is increasing awareness about the need for change. Hence, this project seeks to understand how social learning can be relevant in assuring sustainability at Swedish 4H farms, in theory and practice. Action research is used, to allow for... (More)
The world is facing complex sustainability challenges, and the quest for a more sustainable world is characterized by uncertainty, both regarding goals and means. It is argued that this uncertainty requires a social learning process, where people collectively find shared problem perception and directions for sustainable solutions. The Swedish 4H farms have a great potential of being a platform for sustainability. Still, many farms are facing challenges and uncertainty about the future, and there is increasing awareness about the need for change. Hence, this project seeks to understand how social learning can be relevant in assuring sustainability at Swedish 4H farms, in theory and practice. Action research is used, to allow for facilitation of change and the co-creation of knowledge with participants in six research cycles mainly consisting of interviews and focus groups. In this approach, the organisation of 4H is seen as a system that lives within the larger social and ecological systems.

Research outcomes show how 4H farms are facing sustainability challenges. It identifies a lack of communication between different parts of the organisation system as well as with the surrounding society. This results in a lack of knowledge transfer and critical reflection about
sustainability. Lacking resources is seen as an immediate threat, partly stemming from there lacking an efficient system of institutional coordination. 4H is lagging behind in environmental issues, which can be traced back to the history of not taking stand in political issues and having opposing farming paradigms present in the organisation. The study
identifies a possibility of 4H farms to be simultaneously viable and to be an important actor in the transition to a more sustainable world through a process of social learning. Also there is the need to find a shared identity and vision that responds to societal changes, one that
integrates the environmental, social, economical and political perspectives of farming. Last, as befits an action research project, outcomes of this study include a reframing of 4H identity
and an increased awareness, reflection and learning about sustainability, with 4H taking ownership of the process. Additionally, negotiations about a new farm and the start of an urban farming project have sprung out of the process. (Less)
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author
Samuelsson, Frida LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM01 20131
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
action research., social learning, sustainability science, 4H farms, city farms
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2013:017
language
English
id
3958393
date added to LUP
2013-08-13 10:29:49
date last changed
2013-08-13 10:29:49
@misc{3958393,
  abstract     = {The world is facing complex sustainability challenges, and the quest for a more sustainable world is characterized by uncertainty, both regarding goals and means. It is argued that this uncertainty requires a social learning process, where people collectively find shared problem perception and directions for sustainable solutions. The Swedish 4H farms have a great potential of being a platform for sustainability. Still, many farms are facing challenges and uncertainty about the future, and there is increasing awareness about the need for change. Hence, this project seeks to understand how social learning can be relevant in assuring sustainability at Swedish 4H farms, in theory and practice. Action research is used, to allow for facilitation of change and the co-creation of knowledge with participants in six research cycles mainly consisting of interviews and focus groups. In this approach, the organisation of 4H is seen as a system that lives within the larger social and ecological systems.

Research outcomes show how 4H farms are facing sustainability challenges. It identifies a lack of communication between different parts of the organisation system as well as with the surrounding society. This results in a lack of knowledge transfer and critical reflection about
sustainability. Lacking resources is seen as an immediate threat, partly stemming from there lacking an efficient system of institutional coordination. 4H is lagging behind in environmental issues, which can be traced back to the history of not taking stand in political issues and having opposing farming paradigms present in the organisation. The study
identifies a possibility of 4H farms to be simultaneously viable and to be an important actor in the transition to a more sustainable world through a process of social learning. Also there is the need to find a shared identity and vision that responds to societal changes, one that
integrates the environmental, social, economical and political perspectives of farming. Last, as befits an action research project, outcomes of this study include a reframing of 4H identity
and an increased awareness, reflection and learning about sustainability, with 4H taking ownership of the process. Additionally, negotiations about a new farm and the start of an urban farming project have sprung out of the process.},
  author       = {Samuelsson, Frida},
  keyword      = {action research.,social learning,sustainability science,4H farms,city farms},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {On the way to sustainability through social learning : an action research approach to 4H farms in Sweden},
  year         = {2013},
}