The Importance of Place

Exploring informal learning for community leadership through auto-ethnography.

In an attempt to understand why informal learning experiences often resonate deeply with, and contribute to the development of community leaders, this research investigates what role place has in shaping the learning experiences most influential for developing community leadership skills. Taking the form of an auto-ethonography, select community leadership roles I held between 2007 and 2017 are examined through the act of critical reflection, focusing on elements such as snapshots, artifacts, and metaphor which were selected from an archive of work.

This research builds upon existing literature related to the importance of experience (Lindeman, 1982); space and learning (Gruenewald, 2003; McKee, 2014; Shor, 1992); community leadership (Brookfield & Preskill, 2009; Schweigert, 2007; Wheatley, 2009); and place. Findings are situated within the context of this literature, and others similar to it, to form an appreciation of the learning experiences most influential in developing the skills essential to lead communities, and to help in understanding to what extent place helps to foster such skills.

Does place matter? 🤔

In identifying a gap within existing literature regarding the relationship between place and learning (Gruenewald, 2003; Nesbit & Wilson, 2010), specifically the connecting of spatial elements to adult education for community-based action (Foroughi & Durant, 2013), this research offers a new perspective relevant to the fields of adult education and community development. In appreciating how culture, context, time, and place shape my own experiences, there is the potential for the findings of this research to be used as a basis for a broader understanding of how leadership skills are fostered among community members.

Research Details


👉 The Importance of Place: Exploring Informal Learning for Community Leadership through Auto-Ethnography (pdf)