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Transformative learning for better resource management: the role of critical reflection

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Since 1992, integrated management has been promoted as the solution to challenges facing governments and civil society around the world when managing natural resources. It was argued that integrated management could lead to sustainable development if new participatory approaches to social learning could be developed. Since that time, social learning theory has been an important component of resource management literature. This paper argues that until social learning theory leans more heavily on group processes of transformative learning, sustainable development will elude us. Further, a process of systematic, critical reflection is key to transformative learning, as we illustrate using a five-year research project into the role of communities in integrated management in the Canadian Maritimes. Our experience shows how critical reflection processes can strengthen participatory research to further inform the practice of integrated management. We conclude by observing that room must be made for critical reflection and for true social learning in all integrated management institutions, whether community-based or government-initiated.
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Keywords: community-based management; community-university research alliance; critical reflection; integrated coastal management; participatory research; social learning; transformative learning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Dalhousie University, Faculty of Graduate Studies, Room 314, Henry Hicks Building, 6299 South StHalifax,NS, CanadaB3H 4H6, 2: University of New BrunswickDepartment of Anthropology, Annex C Building, Room 28, PO Box 4400 FrederictonNB, CanadaE3B 5A3, 3: Saint Mary's University, Management Science/Environmental Studies, Halifax,NS, CanadaB3H 3C3, 4: John F. Kearney and Associates, 5064 Doctor's Brook, RR# 3Antigonish,NS, CanadaB2G 2L1, 5: Coastal CURA, Saint Mary's University, Halifax,NS, CanadaB3H 3C3, 6: Dalhousie University, Marine Affairs Program, Kenneth Rowe Mgt. Bldg, 1600 University Avenue, Suite 2127Halifax,NS, CanadaB3H 3J5,

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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