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How can information contribute to innovative learning processes? Insight from a farmer university in Brazil

Coudel E., Tonneau J.P.. 2010. Agricultural Information Worldwide, 3 (2) : p. 56-64. IAALD World Congress. 13, 2010-04-26/2010-04-29, Montpellier (France).

Literature often presents information as a key element of learning processes to enable innovation in development projects. Different learning theories formalize such processes, in which information is part of a dynamic cycle: actors construct new knowledge and develop competencies to then better use available information within ideal learning organizations or learning communities. But in practice, what are the factors which encourage such learning and innovative processes, in which information truly fosters innovation? Universidade Camponesa - UniCampo, aimed to develop the capacities of community leaders in a territory of the semi-arid region of Brazil. Information in such territories raises some particular issues. Often, social and economical information is the monopoly of traditional elites, who still politically dominate these regions. Adequate agronomic information, while available for productive zones, is non-existent for the selected region. Moreover, local knowledge retained by the local communities is often disdained by the banks and technical advisory services who impose their views. At UniCampo, a consultation of various stakeholder groups was held to discuss development models and suggest new ways for sharing information. Information adapted to the context was produced through research and experimentation, simultaneously reinforcing the actors' knowledge and skills. Thus empowered, the community leaders started asking to be informed about the development policies in the territory. Despite several limitations, the overall assessment of this experience shows that by enhancing the links between information systems, capacity building and governance systems, actors can learn to better mobilize and produce information and thus suggest innovative ways for the sustainable development of their territory. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : développement durable; développement agricole; université; Étude de cas; projet de développement; système d'information; apprentissage; adoption de l'innovation; innovation; brésil; développement territorial

Thématique : Documentation et information; Vulgarisation; Economie et politique du développement

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