School-community engagement : a critical approach to involving young people in an urban planning project

Greenaway, Ruth Rowena (2011) School-community engagement : a critical approach to involving young people in an urban planning project. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

[img] Ruth Greenaway Thesis (PDF 15MB)
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This study examines the participation of a group of high school students in designing a Heritage Journey as part of an urban redevelopment project in their community.

School-community engagement offers young people an opportunity to engage in community life and influence decisions that affect them. Forging links between community and school is becoming more important for teachers as they attempt to create new authentic learning opportunities for young people within a changing world. Increasingly, researchers and urban planners are including children and young people as active decision makers and participants in community engagement projects. However, models of participation tend to be adult-focussed, conceive participation in terms of low to high graduated levels and lack a clearly articulated theoretical basis. The research problem in this study focuses on investigating whether the inclusion of young people in school-community engagement results in value adding to urban planning and is an example of genuine participation. The aim of the study is to provide a theoretically informed, empirically rich understanding of the inclusion of young people in a community engagement strategy for an urban planning project.

Theories of space developed by Henri Lefebvre and Edward Soja are drawn upon for understanding how space is understood, used, and redeveloped by the students and other stakeholders. The study also draws on David Harvey’s notion of utopia and space to consider the imaginative possibilities of the students’ designs and ideas. The study uses a participatory research approach and documents the opportunities and challenges of this methodology.

The thesis argues that school-community engagement within a "Thirdspace" offers many new opportunities for the emergence of authentic learning situations. Key findings from the study show young people’s participation in an urban planning project can achieve successful results when young people are given opportunities for full participation in decision-making processes; multiple pathways for active engagement are incorporated into the research design; opportunities for mentoring are provided; realistic timelines are communicated to all stakeholders and the needs and social practices of the local community are acknowledged.

A new spatial model of community engagement is proposed as an outcome of the study. Unlike previous models of participation, this model demonstrates how exclusion and inclusion can be conceived visually, and may prove effective for conceptualising future community engagement projects that involve young people.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 52644
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Mallan, Kerry, Dezuanni, Michael, & Hearn, Gregory
Keywords: community engagement, Heritage Journey, intergenerational, participatory research, place, school-community engagement, spatiality, utopianism, urban space, youth
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 20 Jul 2012 07:17
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2012 05:52

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