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Portrait of Laurent Rieutort

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As a researcher in territorial development, what interest can you identify in the notion of learning territory?

This notion renews the way we look at the development of territories in order to place the actors and their capacities at the center of the processes. It appears as a means of bringing together the different approaches to territorial development in order to bring out tangible and intangible resources as well as the capacities to act collectively. The second element at the heart of this notion is the question of individual and collective learning. It is both knowledge that is acquired throughout life, the links between the diversity of this knowledge, and also how we share knowledge.

This new paradigm of Learning Territory appears at a time when territories are in transition, experiencing ruptures, seeking to adapt, to be more resilient. brings the actors of the territory to improve their skills so that they can better manage the territorial resources.

How do you implement the development of this concept?

In terms of research and action-research, the learning territory integrates many more dimensions, and moreover we consider that the researcher is also a learner who will observe, participate in the action, train and be trained. We are no longer in a status where we will only teach the other, but also where the others will teach us. This results in a collaborative approach between researchers and stakeholders.

What can this learning territory approach bring to rural areas?

The notion of learning territory has the capacity to strongly link the city and the countryside. We have permanent interactions between these two spaces. What connects the city and the countryside is, for example, young rural people who go to a metropolis for training. There is a stake because a part of the youth of the campaigns formed in the city, will settle there and will return only rarely in its territory of origin. How to establish a more balanced relationship, by bringing gray matter back to rural areas and asking what the skills acquired in metropolises can bring to these rural areas? The same questions can also be asked for project leaders, people in retraining, in the countryside.

This concept has a capacity to link resources within rural territories and its actors. There are notions of social innovations, collective emulation, places of exchange, construction of forms of local governance, but also notions of collective memory, local anchoring in these territories. This rural proximity scale is well suited to the Learning Territories project.

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