Reinventing Learning Cities


Principal Investigator: Keri Facer
Co-investigators: Magda Buchczyk
Collaborators: Bristol City Council; Learning Cities Bristol
Duration: From 2016 to 2017

The Reinventing Learning Cities research project explores the multiple ways in which cities learn through social, material and digital processes. Based at the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, it constitutes part of the AHRC Connected Communities Programme.


This project asks what methodologies we can deploy to reimagine and make visible the different learning processes in the city.

How do we make visible the existing learning infrastructure in the city?                                   What opportunities emerge for creative development of the learning infrastructure as a result of being able to see it from different perspectives?                                                                                        


The research is based in Bristol and focuses on four modes of learning within and between cities: emergence, adaptation, empowerment and improvisation. A selection of case studies, representative of different practices and spaces of learning in the city, includes: everyday incremental learning practices, learning embedded in the materiality of the city, formal and informal learning infrastructures and their wider frameworks, trans-urban learning and smart urbanism and citizen-led learning.


The research has five main aims:

  1. To produce an account of multiple aspects of learning in the city
  2. To make visible the limits of the accounts of the value of learning as oriented only toward the formal economy – by demonstrating the way in which learning is embedded in civic, personal, domestic and public life and essential to adaptation to change
  3. To provide useful conceptual resources for city leaders and researchers wishing to understand and support the learning practices in the city
  4. To test out and demonstrate the utility of different research methods for documenting and understanding the learning lives of a city
  5. To rethink the learning city in theory and practice and outline a long term agenda for future research in this area


The project involves three main research strands: ethnographic work, quantitative analysis of urban learning, visual methodologies and a community research project.