5th March 2018

MIREN AGDER

The Master’s in Innovation and Knowledge Management at Agder University, in which Orkestra collaborates, heads the national satisfaction ranking for Norwegian students with a score of 4.8, tied with another Master’s for kindergarten teachers. One of the aspects highlighted in both programmes was the close relationship between theory and practice, with special reference to, amongst others, the subject on Innovation in Public Administration in which Orkestra collaborates, sharing its methodologies in action research. To discover more about the institute’s role in this Master’s, we interviewed researcher Miren Larrea.

How did Orkestra come to participate in the Master’s?

Almost a decade ago we initiated a collaborative relationship with Agder University to continue in Orkestra our own approach to action research directed towards territorial development. This collaboration was chiefly the responsibility of James Karlsen and when James had the chance to develop an experimental subject at Agder University, he wanted to apply our approach to action research.

What is the nature of the subject in which Orkestra collaborates?

Students learn about innovation in public policies via a process of action research in which they collaborate with political and business agents from the Agder area (in particular with the Grimstad city council) with two objectives. The first is to help these agents to solve a problem that is agreed upon between the university and the city council. The second is to generate new knowledge that will enable them, at the end of the term, to write an academic paper. 

What is Orkestra’s role?

My role in the subject is to give students intensive training in action research at the beginning of the term so they can undertake the process of dialogue directed towards action with the agents of the territory.

What exactly are we referring of when we talk about action research in this case?

Our approach to action research is based on a co-generative model in which researchers (in this case teachers and students and the other territorial agents) first decide which problem they wish to tackle together. This is followed by reflection processes – in which the students propose to the agents territorial frameworks, concepts that help them to reflect upon the problem- and action –in which the agents implement the decisions resulting from the reflection. As a consequence of these continued processes we hope to see the generation of a collective capacity which in this case has the Norwegian name Samskaping  (co-creation): the collective capacity to work together to solve the territory’s problems.

Is there an equivalent here?

That is our main unfinished business. We are accompanying methodological innovation processes in two Masters abroad, one at Agder University (Norway) and another at the National Technological University of Argentina in Rafaela (Santa Fé, Argentina). In addition, an Argentine researcher who prepared his doctoral thesis with us is now integrating her studies on action research into subjects at the National University of Tierra de Fuego (Argentina).  However, we do not have a space at our university that allows us to apply these methodologies. I believe that this is a challenge we must respond to soon and at Orkestra we have already formed a small team to begin to look for a place in our teaching plans in order to be able to do so.

IN COLLABORATION WITH