The main objective of CRITICAL is to test how the concepts of a knowledge society can be applied within the context of cities using holistic approaches to collective learning, competitiveness, sustainability and cohesion.
Much has been written recently about knowledge and learning and its role in social and economic development particularly for specific places. Successful places are claimed to be learning regions, and so many city and regional authorities aim to develop knowledge-based activities, or to create learning communities.
Within these strategies and ambitions the role of the tertiary educational infrastructure is often emphasised and policies aim to enlist such institutions in addressing the needs of disadvantaged groups and communities and in developing high status knowledge-based industries. Universities in particular are seen as providing a comprehensive role in revitalising communities, rebuilding social capital and supporting new governance systems.
The project will focus on the process of developing learning region strategies and examine whether the underlying assumptions from theory are possible away from the usual exemplar regions.
There are five detailed objectives:
(i) To test theories relating to knowledge and learning societies through empirical investigation within selected cities.
(ii) To identify the key roles played by cities in the wider knowledge economies of their regions/countries.
(iii) To investigate the institutions involved in collective learning processes within the case study cities.
(iv) To assess the success of existing strategies to enhance learning and knowledge development within the cities.
(v) To develop indicators relating to knowledge and learning processes.
CRITICAL is funded within the 'Improving Human Potential' programme of the European Commission's Fifth Framework Research Programme and runs for three years.
More information is available on the CRITICAL homepage