Archive for the ‘Study Visits’ Category

Learning in London: International guests visit London Academy


victor, colin and colleagues

The London Academy recently hosted a group of prospective diplomats from Romania.

The aspirant diplomats are participating in a programme of study visits and discussions to many parts of Europe organised by the Partnership for Europe, a Romanian based organisation with contacts and links across Europe and beyond.

Their packed programme of visits in the UK took in visits to see how local authorities work, visits to the Foreign Office and to the Romanian embassy.  They came to the London Academy to find out more about how the private, public and not for profit sectors can work together and to explore the concept of economic diplomacy.

In a wide ranging and lively discussion, we explored together various examples of economic diplomacy – from China to Turkey to the USA.  The group discussed and debated how different countries link diplomacy to the promotion of national economic interests.  UK foreign development and aid policy was also put under the microscope.

Posted by Vijay Amin

Sharing learning points


The Academy’s own Colin Gilfillan recently presented the results of The Academy’s Brent Learning Leaders project at a meeting of the Local Government Information Unit /Warwick Business School’s Local Economic Development Learning Network.

Colin shared inspirational stories about the 23 local volunteers who came forward and who we  trained and developed to become Community Learning Champions with our partners Catalyst Communities Housing.  Colin also showed delegates a film about Community Learning Champions which had recently been produced by the CLC national development team.   Not a single delegate had heard of the initiative.  Some delegates were visibly moved by what they saw and heard.  There was concern among delegates about a) why the pilot development programme had not been more widely publicised and b) why such a successful initiative was coming to an end after such a short time (funding for CLC pilot projects began in late 2009 and came to an end at the end of March 2011).

You can find out more about the Academy’s project and the national CLC support programme here.

Posted by Colin Gilfillan

The Small Society in Action


Being rich is not about having more but appreciating more of what you already have: the ‘Small Society’ in action

As part of the London Academy’s mission to identify innovative aspects of community and economic development around the world, two directors of the London Academy – Vijay Amin and Colin Gilfillan – recently visited India.

They visited Pune in the central Indian state of Maharashtra.  Pune is an economic powerhouse and an example of the explosive growth experienced in many parts of urban India.  With a similar population to London, and an economy which at one point in the last decade was growing at an estimated 40% per year,  Pune continues to attract inward investment on a massive scale.   However, in common with much of India, one consequence of this rapid economic development is de-population of the countryside, with many communities drawn to the opportunities in urban India and away from the land.

Just a few miles from Pune’s massive urban development, the Academy directors visited a small scale rural development project – a farm with a difference- which provides a fantastic example of how sustainable development can really work.  The initiative aims to re-create lost employment opportunities in a rural area, revitalizing and capitalising on the skills and traditions of the local community, and opening up traditional and sustainable rural life for people living in urban areas.

The local community manages the farm along sustainable development lines.   City dwellers are encouraged to visit the centre for picnics, daytrips or to stay overnight either on the land or in buildings on the farm.      The farm is being developed by Sanjay Dalmia, the owner of a leading software company and now a social entrepreneur focused on sustainable development.  Sanjay is using ‘green’ skills and sustainable development approaches which he learned during a year-long study of sustainable rural development in Bali.  The farm uses state of the art, low tech, green approaches, from vermi-composting  to water harvesting.

Overnight visitors have different options depending upon how close to nature they want to be.  They  can stay in cement houses on the farm or share with local villagers in their houses, or stay in tents under thatched roofs.  Visitors can cook their own food, eat with local villagers or visit a local hotel for food.

We are currently putting together an itinerary for a larger scale study visit to provide the opportunity for people to have a closer look at some of the exciting new ideas emerging out of India.  Please get in touch with us at the Academy if you are interested.

Colin Gilfillan

Posted by Colin Gilfillan