The association AGTER runs an international network of people, exchanging and thinking together how to improve the governance of land, water and natural resources.The network selects and makes information available but it also formulates suggestions and alternatives to face the current great challenges. This quaterly newsletter is presenting the latest information available on our website : www.agter.asso.fr.
29 March 2021
by Dayma Echevarría
One method of adult education used in the last fifteen years has been the study tour. This method allows different tools used in popular education to be put into action, all the while taking into account each participants personal experience.
Since its creation in 2005, the association AGTER has developed its own methodology for the Study tour. This methodology is based on the same philosophy that underpins the association’s online knowledge base www.agter.org: creating a common vision and questioning the dominant ideology by comparing real and diverse experiences. AGTER organised multiple Study tours, summaries of which were made into videos and publications in order to share them with anyone who didn’t participate. This bulletin will allow you to easily access these documents (in French and Spanish), so that you may experience your very own virtual study tour.
Mirian Garcia and I, both academics, took part in the first trip which brought a group of Cuban technicians to France and Spain in 2005. With our colleagues we borrowed this concept for ourselves, and adapted and developed it to suit our own territorial development activities in Cuba. Based on this experience we published a book that codified the methodology, which you can access via this bulletin. [Bombino Y.; García, M.; Echevarría, D.; Pérez, N.; 2014; Viajes de estudio: experiencia metodológica para el aprendizaje por contraste. CCFD – Terre solidaire. Ruth Casa Editorial, Panamá.]
Knowledge creation is an active process during which people assimilate new information that then comes to complement already acquired knowledge. This process however isn’t simply the add-on of new information, but rather an exercise of identification, association, symbolisation, and the reaffirmation or questioning of the previously acquired knowledge. It is for this reason that the Study tour was designed as an act of creation, one where learning came from actions. The exchanges that are proposed, provoke the meetings of different logics, perceptions and visions, each originating from the specific historical, social and cultural background that defines each person’s daily life. What makes this process of knowledge building especially valuable is the moment when the social practice involved in this process is taken into account, the social practice of the other (…). What makes the other different, unique, heterogeneous is precious (…) let us then recognise this diversity, rather than rejecting it or brushing it aside. (Rigal en Rivero, 2005 : 415)** . It was in this vein that Mirian Garcia suggested at the final meeting of the Cuban Delegation’s study trip to Europe in 2005, that the process which lay at the heart of the Study tour be defined as learning through contrast.
When being confronted with the content each new exchange produces, whatever one’s role, coordinator, host, or participant, every person is forced to question their preconceived knowledge, interests, opinions, motifs or personal experiences. The person assesses whether to give the newly acquired knowledge value or meaning, and if they should generalise or transfer this knowledge to new experiences and specific socioeconomic contexts. This new knowledge allows for the transformation of one’s own concepts, opinions and practices, and leads to a gradual process of short, medium and long term change. Furthermore, this knowledge also contributes to finding novel solutions to the different problems and difficulties that may be encountered, and enables the implementation of strategies to deal with any future challenges.
The study tours use a methodology defined by:
a) Expressing the practical and theoretical, by favouring the practical. By letting the participants describe their daily lives and the problems they face, the ensuing discussion will create a form of common knowledge, allowing the participants to understand the connections and contradictions at the heart of social realities, and therefore devise and put into place actions to transform them.
b) The reasoning stems from each person’s individual experience, but leads to reflection on what the organisation, community or society each person belongs to, is doing and experiencing.
c) Contextualised knowledge. The theoretical and practical knowledge that each study tour mobilises is indicative of the cooperative thinking and learning processes which underpin it, and illustrates a teaching method that is based on comparing and contrasting different opinions and knowledge. This method, based on diversity, stimulates the exploration and knowing of oneself.
In the study tours, the social actors are critical protagonists of learning that swap roles continuously during the collective knowledge building process.
To summarise, the central characteristics of this learning process are the following:
Thus designed and implemented, the study tour can be a powerful tool for learning, either for a smaller group with reduced numbers, but also for a much larger group of people if complemented with adapted materials: videos, audio recordings, publications, and an educational approach which allows for the same tour to be carried out virtually.
* Dayma Echevarría, Doctor of sociology, is a Professor at the Centro de Estudios de la Economia Cubana (CEEC), University of Havana. She is a member of the Cátedra de la Mujer y del Equipo de Estudios Rurales, and the Red Desigualdades y movilidad social en América latina (DEMOSAL). She is also a member of AGTER.
** Rigal, Luis. La escuela popular y democrática: un modelo para armar. En Rivero Baxter, Yisel, Clotilde Proveyer Cervantes (comp.) (2005). Selección de lecturas de Sociología y Política Social de la Educación. Editorial Félix Varela. La Habana. Pp 389-417
In this bulletin you will be able to find the links to videos of the 3 study tours organised by AGTER. They are all accessible online, and in this way you will be able to take part in these trips, albeit virtually. (The videos on the tour to France and Spain are in Spanish, and the videos of the tours to Mexico and to France on the theme of natural resource governance are in French and Spanish).
This bulletin also includes some documents unrelated to the study tours.
We remind you that you may also find our previous bulletins via this link http://www.agter.asso.fr/rubrique28_en.html.
Translation from French: Niels Zwarteveen
Bulletin d’information # 49 FR
Boletín de información # 49 ES
Los viajes de estudio como metodología válida para la educación de adultos, que prioriza la articulación de las experiencias de los integrantes con los procesos de capacitación de la Educación Popular. La metodología y el concepto del “viaje de estudio” que se utilizó ha sido desarrollado por AGTER, (Asociación para mejorar la Gobernanza de la Tierra, del Agua y de los Recursos Naturales) a partir de varios viajes en el cual participaron las autoras del libro.
Presentación del viaje de estudio realizado en el marco de un programa plurianual inter-asociativo Cuba - Francia, que utilizó por primera vez una metodología original de « aprendizaje por contraste », buscando fomentar la reflexión sobre temas centrales del desarrollo agrícola a partir de la observación y el análisis de situaciones geográficas, históricas y sociales muy diferentes de las que conocían los participantes al viaje. Aunque se haya hecho sin relación formal con AGTER, que estaba recién creada, varios de los participantes trabajaron en AGTER después, y esta experiencia contribuyó mucho a la elaboración de una de las herramientas privilegiadas del método de trabajo de formación de la asociación.
Newsletter AGTER # 49 EN