The 8th international conference in the ESREA network Between Global and Local was organized in Ljubljana by the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Department of Educational Sciences, from 18th to 20th of June 2015. Conference attracted professionals from the field of adult education from 17 countries from all over the world. Diversity of participants cultural and national background was an advantage, which resulted in a fruitful event with the very informing and diverse discussions.
The main topic of the conference was community as a venue for learning, a crucial part of the external conditions for learning, a space where the individual interferes with the environment and other people and a space with potential to develop critical consciousness and emancipation. Such community can contribute to the empowerment of community members and offer a new chance to avoid solitariness and despair. Many different ideas, measures and initiatives are needed so that the community becomes inclusive, open and hospitable enough in order that learning can happen and each member can find a possibility to participate. At the conference, we discussed local educational and social initiatives that are intertwined with the international global networks, like activities in squatters or projects, where different actors on local levels deal with global problems of self-supply (like urban gardens), protection of vulnerable social groups (migrants, Roma people, poor and solitary old people, etc.), empowerment of local communities for entering political arena (networks of participative performative arts, initiatives in public spaces, etc.), active citizenship, etc. We searched for answers to questions, like ‘What is the role of adult education in this process? What interventions can educators apply, what kind of actions in the field of learning and education are reasonable and necessary, that members of a community will be able to participate in, and prosper?
Conference started in a squad in Ljubljana, at Metelkova, where participants ‘in vivo’ experienced atmosphere and activities in a community. On the second day, besides academic work at the faculty, participants were invited to visit different community venues and get to know alternative practices and activities. The third day offered also the panel on UNESCO’s revision of recommendation on the development of adult education. As a result, the conference was an inspiring and diverse meeting of culture, inspiration and ideas, brought in by each participant and discussed with others. I believe that we all gain the insight that differences, creativity and bottom-up approaches in learning, education and social practices can result in a well-connected and rewarding community practices, which sometimes need just slight incentives from adult educators. However, adult education community interventions are often needed to initiate, reinforce and focus the community potential.
Dr. Sabina Jelenc Krašovec is associate professor for adult education at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. Her current research interests cover topics in the field of older adults’ education and sociology of ageing, but she is also dealing with adult education for vulnerable groups and educational counselling and guidance for adults.