Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

Program Name/Specialization

Community Psychology

Faculty/School

Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. Manuel Riemer

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor

Second Advisor

Dr. Maritt Kirst

Advisor Role

Thesis committee member

Third Advisor

Dr. Carrie Wright

Advisor Role

Thesis committee member

Abstract

Local communities face significant challenges such as increased inequality, immigration, and global climate change. In order to address these challenges whole cities have to innovate and learn together. In this thesis, I introduce the Learning Community (LC) model, a new way of collaborating and creating collective impact that emphasizes learning, alongside collective impact, as a central strategy to addressing complex social challenges. In a LC, members value the continuous pursuit of knowledge, feedback, and experimentation as well as the flow of information and resources between academic institutions and practice groups. The value of learning is built into key structures and common processes. In this case study, I investigated the implementation and development of a LC in Waterloo Region focused on immigration and social inclusion. Documentation review, participant observation and semi-structured interviews were used to determine to what degree LC principles were already present in practice compared to those that were not (which a specific focus on the conditions that could enable or hinder the realization of LC principles). Specific activities studied include a creative problem solving “design lab,” several quarterly learning team meetings, which are comprised of key agencies and individuals from across the community and Wilfrid Laurier University. Challenges and barriers related to the actualization of the LC were discussed, as well as implications for practice.

Convocation Year

2017

Convocation Season

Fall