In this research briefing, we would like to present the key evidence of a research conducted in London in which we have explored an action learning experience between 3 actors: the Social Development Master Programme of the Bartlett Development Planning Unit (University College of London), a United Kingdom charity named Citizens UK devoted to community enhancement and 8 schools of different neighbourhoods in London.Our research shows that in the action learning experience the different actors involved are able to gain a sense of engagement around social issues, which can develop a collective consciousness as change makers.

This engagement is possible through a shared learning process and collective co-creation of knowledge that can inform future policy campaigns. We have also identified potential obstacles to this kind of initiative, which are related to structural constraints. Exploring the potential of relationships between university and civil society for meaningful learning and collective action. These come from university regulations that fail to recognise the demands of achieving social impact, despite the increasing priority placed on ‘impact’ by research funders.

However, our research shows that relationships based on trust and collaborative attitudes go some way toward overcoming those obstacles. In order to boost the key enablers of this engagement and to diminish the disablers, a set of recommendations are offered to all the actors involved.


  • The action learning experience
  • The research
  • What are the most valued goals of the action learning?

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