Action learning for neighbourhood improvement – from practice to theory

Asher Rospigliosi, Tom Bourner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What do people need to learn to engage actively in social action for neighbourhood improvement or development? How important is emergent learning relative to planned learning in this context? Where does first-person knowledge fit into the body of knowledge required for success in bringing about change for the better in neighbourhoods through community-based projects? These are some of the questions raised by the development of a programme of knowledge and skills for active participation in community-based neighbourhood renewal projects. The programme was christened ‘Action Learning Together’ but was quickly abbreviated to the ALTogether programme. It was a programme that blended action learning with self-managed learning, that capitalised on the different knowledge and skills of different participants and that recognised that the knowledge and skills needed for each project were likely to be significantly different from that needed to tackle the projects of other participants on the programme. This paper focuses on the philosophy or theory underpinning the programme and issues raised in a number of areas including the relative weight attached to emergent and planned learning, the blending of action learning with self-managed learning and the applicability of self-managed action learning for social change in contexts like this.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-150
Number of pages15
JournalAction Learning: Research and Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2021

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.


  • Emergent learning
  • first-hand knowledge
  • neighbourhood improvement
  • planned learning
  • self-managed action learning


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