Social learning in the CGIAR: Highlights of a stocktaking exercise

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Transcript Social learning in the CGIAR: Highlights of a stocktaking exercise

Draft for Discussion
Science Meeting
March 2013
Social learning in the
CGIAR: Highlights of a
stocktaking exercise
Julian F. Gonsalves PhD.
• Innovative social learning related efforts in the
• Lessons we have learned along the way (the
past should inform the future)
• Ensure no duplication with other CCAFS
studies on communications, social
Activity Duration
• 25 days in November-December 2012
for stocktaking
• 10 days in January-February 2013 for
preparation of working paper and
revised powerpoint presentation
Process in a Nutshell
• Review of secondary literature, websites and
extensive personal correspondence
• Center-specific review limited to website-research and
survey respondent inputs
• Compilation of Illustrative Cases (128)
• Conduct of surveys ( one-to-one) and analysis respondents (47) and personal correspondence (33)
• Preparation of powerpoint presentation, promising
cases collection and working paper
Reform in CGIAR:
Addressing Development
Challenges More Directly
CGIAR consortium CEO on Partnerships
• While there are no doubt many excellent partnerships in the system, as a
whole we need to improve massively on this front;
• We need to share both budgets and program responsibility more
generously with our partners, both upstream and downstream.
• …Aligning our internal research priorities with those of the countries and
regions we serve is both a need and an opportunity
• Now that our budgets are growing we need to become less defensive and
more open as a system, learning from the good examples we do have.
• We also need to become much more outward facing – now that we have
made very good progress on working better among the Centers, we also
need to work better with partners.
(from Frank Rijsberman reflections on GCARD, Nov 5th)
What the survey
respondents said?
With the new approach to
transforming AR4D, do we also have a
more conducive environment in the
CGIAR for Social Learning
The CGIAR might now does have a
more conducive climate for
Social Learning (SL).
• Improved collaboration, cooperation and
“ We are seeing better collaboration and
cooperation among centers than had been the
norm over my long full time involvement with the
CGIAR---so I’m cautiously optimistic about
improved uptake of such approaches. I think the
relevance certainly remains as high as ever”.
- Carol J. Pierce Colfer (2.9)
Improved work arrangements
• Better collaboration across centers (via CRPs than
in the past
• More emphasis on a systems approach that
includes interdisciplinary approaches
• A move towards negotiating shared realities of
problems and solutions
• Research that ‘goes beyond’ biophysical and
economic components
A greater emphasis on outcomes,
theories of change and impact pathways
• A clear push for showing research
• More recently a call for intermediate
development outcomes
• The focus on outcome makes
participatory approaches more relevant
CRPs and donor emphasis on impact
create “pressure” for partnerships
• The changes were often the result of
donor pressures.
• Will the donor pressures to bridge the
R&D gaps remain?
Acknowledging diversity,
complexity and multiple-scales
• We increasingly focus on more complex challenges
characterized by multiple stakeholders with often
divergent perspectives and competing goals (2.6)
• Awareness of the diversity and complexities of the
challenges. These complex problems need
knowledge intensive approaches, does not allow
for a “one size fits all” approach not embedded in
easy to disseminate and adopt technologies
• "There are many implementing groups, facilitators,
and communities of practice experts as there are
• We need to recognize that the diversity as it
meets different needs of researchers. Researchers
might become engaged in social learning for different
reasons. We need to grant that this accounts for the
range of approaches.
Challenges remain:
• Still a prevailing concern about integrating R&D:
“Somewhere on the continuum between R and D
lies the current reality” i.e. a Gap
• How can we build processes that integrate both
research and development from the outset,
around common issue rather than holing one on
the other opportunistically (Mark Lundy)
Challenges remain (contd.):
Limited communication between scientist and partners on the
Solutions sought in a “linear” manner
Cumbersome working modalities of CRPs
Difficult coordination of CRPs
Communication limited mainly to institutional focal points
How serious is the commitment to development outcomes (big
change in mindset for some)
• Recognition of SL/PM is limited within scientific research
community (struggle for SL proponents to be recognized)
• Mechanisms to link CRPs (focused on global public goods) to
national partners are lacking
Challenges remain (contd.):
• The Consortium is working on a new concept of
management for results with concrete and
measurable outcomes for the assessment of the
CRP activities. Is there a risk of result
orientation leading back to old productivity and
breeding orientation of CG?
• What do we do when we know that social
learning and institutional work does show
“direct” impacts?
Challenges remain (contd.):
• CGIAR scientists are now swamped with
design and coordination of CRPs, and
seem to be working pretty
independently in this – making it,
again, difficult "coordinating" among
these differing, if all valuable,
implementation methods (2.3)
Yet we are hopeful:
• The goal is to work for a CGIAR better
able to reach the billion left behind by
the Green Revolution through the
broader use of such approaches. (2.14)
• Relevance of research will improved greatly if
CRP and CG scientists spend quality time with
the target groups, talk less, listen more and
create enabling environment so that farmers
can make self directed decision making. Before
that they need to question themselves “whose
lives we would like to change?” and once they
are crystal clear on that success is not far
behind. (1.9)
Addressing climate change, whether mitigation or adaptation, is
going to require changes in people’s behaviour. Suggesting or
mandating change from on high has long proven fraught with
difficulties and fatal errors. The human variability (along with the
environmental variability) globally means we simply cannot decide
what the answer is and apply across the board. That doesn’t
work. We really need to be tailoring both mitigation and adaptation
efforts to local contexts, and that will necessitate the help of local
people – a shared learning approach that analyzes, plans,
mitigates/adapts, monitors what happens, and improves on initial
results, in an iterative manner. - Carol Colfer
Social Learning in
Support of CCAF’s
Theme 4 Objectives
Social Learning:
What definitions work for us?
• The IDS/IIED study states that “Social
Learning approaches help facilitate
knowledge sharing and joint learning
experiences between stakeholders…
through working together to better
understand their situation, new shared
ways of knowing are generated”.
• Keen (2005) defines “Social Learning as
the collective action and reflection that
takes place amongst both individuals
and groups when they work to improve
the management of the inter
relationships between social and
ecological systems…”.
A different terminology
• Steve Waddel preferred not to use Social
Learning when he described large-system
change processes. “When formalised into
new patterns of working together – often
through the creation of new umbrella
organisations with participants from diverse
parts of society – these mutually beneficial
outcomes represent societal learning”.
• “Societal learning is a process of changing
patterns of interactions within and between
adverse organisations and social units to
enhance society’s capacity to innovate. Large
scale problems – such as poverty and
environmental degradation – require
substantial societal learning in order for
lasting change to occur”.
Steve Waddel (
A social learning definition that
relates to CGIAR work?
• Social learning is defined as the process through which groups of
people learn, by jointly defining problems, searching for and
implementing solutions, and assessing the value of solutions for
specific problems (Koelen and Das, 2002).
• Social learning brings about a shift from ‘‘multiple cognition” to
‘‘collective cognition”. Individuals involved in social learning
processes begin with quite different perceptions of their current
situation and the potential for change; as they interact, they
develop common, shared perspectives, insights and values.
Source: Personal exchanges ( Andre Devaux, Nov 9th 2012)
In a AR4D framework, a research related interventions are
needed in at least three levels:
• INDIVIDUAL FARMER LEVEL: Farmer engagement in
diagnosis (PRA typed) or in evaluating technologies, to
more complex participatory breeding programs
• COMMUNITY LEVEL: Community-based biodiversity
management, adaptive co -management, comanagement, etc.
• MULTISCALE LEVEL: Innovation platforms, learning
alliances, multi-stakeholder platforms, etc.
• At whatever scale we work a learning
framework should apply...
Need for learning framework
Synthesis: Fostering cycles of
learning is crucial
• Stakeholder participation processes will
(help) introduce perspectives and insights
that researchers would not otherwise. The
challenge is how do we synthesise the
knowledge that we acquire from
stakeholder networks and feed this into
the action process. (1.4)
Methodological diversity
• What the stocktaking exercise
came up with
• Even if in isolated pockets - not coordinated or
mainstreamed into programs – there is rich
array of field tested social learning related
approaches within the CG system
• Check out the cases recommended
by respondents in this survey
Participatory Plant
Breeding, and
Participatory Varietal
Selection, Community
Market Chain
(ICT, participatory
video, etc.)
approaches eg.
Social Learning
for Climate
Change Research
Farmer Field
Schools/ CIALS
Gender analysis/
J.F. Gonsalves 2012
Adaptive Collaborative
Management, CBM,
and Co-Management
and Conflict
• We should celebrate this diversity in
social learning related approaches in
• Recognize that communities and individuals are
already adapting and coping with climate variability
and associated change
• Recognize that scientists will use different entry
points for bringing in SL perspective
• Participatory assessments have to be deepened (e.g.
superficial vulnerability assessments won’t help) to
understand how communities cope with adversity
• What about the question of
different scales (local national?)
• “Addressing climate change, whether
mitigation or adaptation, is going to require
changes in people’s behaviour. We really
need to be tailoring both mitigation and
adaptation efforts to local contexts, …with
the help of local people – a shared learning
approach that analyzes, plans, mitigates/
adapts, monitors what happens, and
improves on initial results”.
- Carol J. Pierce Colfer
Relevance of local scale
engagement in climate change work
We have to deal with location specificities:
• Agro-ecological, climatic, culture, etc.
• Climate change scenarios must get close to
reality and on the other challenge in
bringing locally derived solutions to scale
Important considerations in
strengthening local-level action
• Capacities of local level institutions need to
be built
• Strengthening capacities to innovate is just as
important as technological solutions
• Farmer-to-farmer linkages are a critical factor
for horizontal communication ultimately
influencing outscaling
• There has been extensive past work on
community-level learning approaches:
Farmer Field Schools, CIALS, Adaptive
Co-Management remain relevant as
“tools” for enhancing learning, fostering
cooperation and as mechanisms for
lower-level outscaling
• But working at the local level alone
wont suffice: vertical upscaling
approaches are needed
• Social learning is essential at these
different levels
Going to scale is always the
challenge (the need for research on
partnership processes)
• We need platforms and networks which
encourage learning about methods as well.
We need to have more action research on
partnerships and how methods actually play
out with feedback loops to learning.
Mechanistic blue prints won’t work… This is
always the challenge as we go to scale. (2.10)
Partnerships and associated
platforms offer possible solution
Source: Working with National Innovation Pilot Learning Sites and Inter-regional Innovation Platforms -Sub-Saharan
Africa Challenge Program by Wale Adekunle
A critical role for participatory
• Indeed, one of the challenges I see is how to
integrate participatory communications into
scaling up strategies that are both effective
and sustainable. All of this is deeply
embedded in social learning theory and
- Kevin Kamp
Towards an Enabling
Environment for Social
Learning (Survey Results)
What does the CGIAR have to do to
support and help such approaches
(Social Learning related approaches)
Social Learning process should allow for the
incorporation of lessons from the past- the
challenges to not re-invent the wheel and
learn from past experiences – Personal
correspondence: Simone Staiger, Nov. 2012
Emphasis on the importance of
institutional culture that:
• Recognizes social science as having its own legitimacy
(“not a hand maiden of biophysical sciences)
• Values collaboration and understanding of
philosophical differences
• Has a commitment to learn from previously
demonstrated work
• Understand the need for more experienced social
scientist: “We are good at bringing in young
researchers and students…”
• Change will happen if there are a few “champions”
• Need for a critical mass of like minded professionals
in every organisation
• Also need for a balanced composition of
interdisciplinary research team members (return of
former CG staff to the fold)
• Diversity implies more representation of southern
researchers more especially so if social learning is
our focus
• “We need partners from the countries in the
south who have a more detailed
understanding on context. If capacity is a
constraint we should build that... it
strengthens our capacity to understand a
- Ruth Meinzen Dick
Will the way result management is
implemented discourage participation?
• What results are valued? What about
development outcomes?
• Social learning is difficult to track after all
• Will the recent emphasis on intermediate
development outcomes provide new
windows of opportunity?
• The incentives structure must be in place. The
requirement to deliver outcomes in term of
development is a key step.
• Senior management have a key role in fostering a
new environment for change in emphasis,
approaches and commitment to development
• Scientific publications must be considered as only
one contribution to agricultural knowledge for
development. Other knowledge products and its
effects must be compensated. (2.5)
Respondents were fairly upbeat about
new prospects for social learning
• They felt that Senior Management center
support is warranted
• Incentive, recognition and reward
mechanisms need to be more explicitly
• New work-modalities and focus on outcomes
have made a difference
• "Top priority that all of us can work on is to put in
place a system of managing and monitoring CRP
performance against agreed and prioritized
development outcomes, reported in a timely and
harmonized fashion. This is in essence what the SRF
Action Plan lays out and this is now widely endorsed
and the top priority for implementation in 2013.
(From Frank Rijsberman reflections on GCARD, Nov
Is the research community ready to
respond to these challenges? In
general, the 47 respondents and 33
correspondents were optimistic about
the prospects for change.