My name is Anna Guðrún Edvardsdóttir. I´m a Ph.D student at University of Iceland, School of Education. My supervisors are Dr. Allyson Macdonald a professor at the University of Iceland, School of Education, where I have a small officespace, close to Allyson, Dr. Frank Rennie, a professor at the Lews Castle College, University of Highlands and Islands in Scotland, but I stayed at Lews Castle College from September – December 2010, taking interviews and collecting data. The third member of the doctoral committy is Dr. Karl Benediktsson, a prófessor at the department of Life and Environmental Sciences, School of Engineering and Natural Science at the University of Iceland.My thesis is about the knowledge society´s effect on rural development and social sustainability in Iceland and Scotland. Today I want to talk about some issues concerning that subject, based on my work so far and my experience as a former inhabitant in a small community, a former memeber of the local authorites and as a schoolar and a researcher.
I was born and brought up in Reykjavík, but moved to a small town, called Bolungarvík in the Westfjords, and lived there for 24 years. This autum I moved back to Reykjavík in order to complete my Ph.D thesis. I´m married and we have two sons, 24 and 18 years old and a daughter – in - law. I´m a gratuate teacher and when I moved to Bolungarvík, I started to teach and few years later I became a principal at the local compulsary school. I was a principle for 13 years. At the same time I became involved in local politics and have been a member and a chairman of the local authorities in my town. From 2006 – 2010 I was also elected a chairman of the Association of the municipalities of the Westfjords.My interest for rural development grew during my time as a chairman of the Association. At the same time the development of the knowledge society, that is reinforcement in higher education and research activities in rural areas was something that both state government and local authorities were looking up to as key player in rural development and all effort and funding were put into. I also belived, at that time, that this was just what rural areas would needed to flourish.
These are the research questions. But what I want to do today is to discuss what impact knowledge society´s development has had on rural development and reflect on some issues that should be considered in that context.
Those are the research areas; Westfjords and East Iceland, chosen because in those areas there are no universities and they are also furthest away from one.
The research area in Scotland are the Highlands and Islands, chosen because of their establishment of University of Highlands and Islands. It has now become a University and is build up as a partnership of colleges and research institutions all over the Highlands and Islands. Distance learning methods is highly valued and used, cooperation is between research institutions and colleges, both in teaching and research activeties.
In 1971, about 10 thousand inhabitants lived in the Westfjords, in 1981 the population was 10.500 and in 1991 the population had decreased to 9.722. Since then, the population has continued to decrease and by the end of 2011, the population was 6.955. The main reasons for this population decrease are the quota system’s legislation on fisheries, the quota ownership change in 1991, difficulties and bankruptcy of companies in the fishing industry and natural disasters in 1995.Even though number of research institutes and university center have increased and are now 24, with the number of full-time equvalent unit 42, the number of people who are employed at a permanent basis are 36 and temporary project employies are 102 and reinforcing distance learning, reduced population continues.
The population in East Iceland has been constant over the same period. There has been difficulties in the fishing industry, especially in the smaller communities in the area, but not as much as in the Westfjords area. The power plant project and the aluminium plant project was a boost in the area´s economy, but it seems that although a big project like that has occured in the area, reduced population is a fact. As in Westfjords the number of research institute and university center have increased and are now 31, with 74 full-time equivalent unit, 61 that are employed at permanent basis and 42 temporary project employies. The distance learning has also been reinforcing, but despite that, population decreases.
Even though the Vestfjords area and East Iceland are similar areas according to the economy, where fisheries and agriculture are the main industry, their natural resources are different. In Westfjords, the fishing industry is the main industry and mostly rely on demersal fish. The land is harsh and mountainous and even though agriculture is practiced, not many farmers are left.Since the quota system was established changes have been in the fishing industry because of technology and quota ownership. Fishing quotas moved from one community to another, both in the area and out of it, and new technology was implemented into the fishing plants, creating a job loss in the industry, especially for women. In Westfjords area, people moved away, if they lost their jobs, because no other job opportunities were offered.
In East Iceland the fishing industry have both demersal fish and pelagic. It is easier to practice agriculture because the land is more suitable for it. East Iceland have also waterfalls that can be harnessed for electricity and that is what was done in order to get an alumnium plant.East Iceland faced similar difficulties in the fishing industry as the Westfjords but the difference is that many of those who lost jobs in the fishing industry, moved to the aluminium plant. That is one of the reason the population decrease in East Iceland has not been as much and fast as it has been in the Westfjords area
This picture shows how those who attend universities have increased since 1997, when the number of students attending universities were 8.554, but in 2011 20.162 students were registered in universities in Iceland.
This slide shows how the number of a distance learning students has increased since 1997, when the number was 378. Since then the number has been growing and in 2009 4.047 students were registered as distance learning students. In 2010, the numer decreased to 2.631 but last year it grew again when 2.959 distance learning students were registered. The growth is similar to the growth in the university sector as a whole. Distance learning students come all over the country and a growing number of them live in the capital.What is relevant is that in the beginning, distance learning was a solution for rural areas, however, today the individual student has a choice to pursue an education through distance learning or by traditional methods, occupation is not relevant.
This is the distance learning students that lived in Westfjords and East Iceland and were registerd in universities. I wasn´t able to get data from the year 2006 – 2011. That same pattern, that is the growth in number of students attending universities, is also happening all over Iceland at the same time.
In Iceland there are 189 higher education knowledge or research institutions operating in rural areas today. Their funding comes from various sources, but most of the funding comes from the state or the local authorities. Some research institutions are part of national research institutions, e.g. the University of Iceland Research Center, which are 11 all over the country and The National History Institutes, which are 8 around the country. Others are independent, e.g. Icelandic center for ethnology and folklore.
Since the 1960s, higher education development in the Nordic countries has been presented as a policy tool which could boost regional development in rural areas. In a study on the contribution made by higher education to regional development it was concluded that the following good practices have to be in place for optimal use of higher education institutions for regional development purposes: - a match between the education offered and the regional labour force demand - project or problem based learning and student outplacement - entrepreneurship programmes - up-skilling and life-long learning approach. The development of the knowledge society is belived to be the foundation for a powerful economy in rural areas and is strongly linked to employment matters in rural communities. Governments are using higher education as a tool to reverse migration from rural areas. But as I have showed before the knowlegde society as a tool to reverse migration from rural areas is not working and migration from rural areas is a fact. Instead, the knowledge society should be considered a tool for the development of sustainable rural communities and the well-being of rural people.
Therefore I want to relate the discourse about the role of the knowledge society to rural development and the reinforcement of rural communities to the discourse of sustainability and implications for education and research. The radical view of sustainability (left) suggests a view of nested systems of environmental integrity, economic viability and social welfare (Huckle, 2005) and requires a holistic view of education for sustainability. Giddings, Hopwood and O’Brien (2002) suggested another view (right) in which economic viability and social welfare are collapsed into one category, human activity and well-being, which is always dependent on and must be achieved within environmental limits.
I want to link social sustainability to higher education, research and rural development. Social sustainability has been defined as an individual´s capacity to contribute to his/her own and the community´s well being. It also involves a community´s capacity to engage in collective action in order to improve and sustain a quality of life. All this happens in the framework the environment sets. My speculations are about the role of higher education and research, in rural areas, in increasing and supporting both the individual and the rural communities where the environment is both a challenge and a resource.So far, more attention has been on the environment and the economy when talking about rural development and all emphasise has been on those two factors in policy plans for the rural areas.
Higher education and research can play a big role in social sustainability. Many research projects in rural areas relate to environmental management of coastal regions, and sustainable management of resources, such as the fishing sector. Some projects are linked to history and culture and new views of tourism, such as in isolated areas or challenging climates. But sustainability involves a complex interaction between environmental limits on the one hand and human well-being on the other, or in other words, social sustainability. In rural areas distance learning is one of the tool universities can use. Teaching, research and development must listen to the people who live in the rural areas and have entered university studies through distance learning or want to study but haven´t found their line because it is not offered through distance learning. A contribution to social sustainability could be made through research and development with distance learners in mind and in developing a curruculum which nurtures sustainability knowledge and skills and encourages discussion on issues, perspectives and values.If the knowledge society wants to be an active partner in national and regional development and a major source of knowledge production, a sustainable education is needed. I think that the tool that can be used to implement sustainable education is through transformative learning, which has been explained as a process of effecting change in a frame of references. It is concerned with altering frames of references through critical reflection of both habits of mind and points of view. It is an interdisciplinary approach and the ultimate goal is to empower individuals to change their perspectives. Transformative learning focuses on changing our views and believes towards certain things.
This slides shows the declining population in the Westfjords. More men live in the area than women.
This slide show the how the population has been in East Iceland from 1998 – 2012. After a decresing population for few years, the population goes up again. That is because of the hydropower project and the aluminum plant project, attracting more men to the area that women. Constructions and large scale industry tend to be male oriented. But when these project were finished the declining continues, but not as fast as in Westfjords.
More men live in rural areas than women and some research shows that women are more likely to move from a rural area to an urban one. Women are taking advantage of being educated at a higher level than men and now more women than men are enrolled in institutions of higher learning. They have also taken advantage of using distance learning more than men to study from their hometowns. It seems like women will continue to live in their hometowns increases after they finish their studies, if they are able to find suitable jobs. With the declining economy in rural areas this is not the case. The variety of careers and access to diverse services that a community can offer also affect such a decision
This slide show that more women are using the distance learning methods than men in Westfjords.
The same is happening in East Iceland, women attend university studies through distance learning methods.
In rural areas, women‘s space for actions is not that same as for men. Men, women, the community and the authorities maintain the dominant gender roles and the discourse about this diversity (Proppé, 2004). Even though women claim that the sexes should have same opportunities and rights and that the responsibility of the household should be equal between sexes, Proppé, an anthropologist, found the Icelandic reality to be different. In rural areas women have more responsibility for the household and have limited space and fewer opportunities to function than men. Proppé believes that if people experience constant mismatch between their own ideas and the reality, it is more likely that those people will leave the community (HuldaProppe, 2004). Research on resource management shows that women do not have access to the decision making, especially in the fishing industry, in fishing communities. Icelandic women have poor access to the independent transferable quota system; meaning that the men own the boats and the quota that goes with it. Men are fishermen, catching the fish; women work at the fish plants. The minority of women are registered as boat owners and are therefore excluded because they don´t own the quota (Proppé, 2004). Women are rendered powerless in the management of resources. The fishing industry is a male thing, minimising women´s power and opportunities to take part in the discourse and act in that field. The discourse is male dominant limiting women´s access to discussion about the system, and overlooking women‘s interests, the effect the system has on them, their attitude towards it and how they experience it (Proppé, 2004).I belive that women use education to strengthen their status in a rural community. On the surface it looks as if they are studying for themselves, but under the surface, it becomes clear that the area they choose to study, is to fit the needs of the community; that is, a profession that is lacking in the community.
The Icelandic regional development plans put a great emphasis on development of higer education and research. The goal is to stop the migration from the rural areas. In spite of an increased number of research institutions and development of distance learning the migration from rural areas continues. It is something that is happening all over the world, people move from rural areas to more urbanised areas, especially young people and women. Women and young people seem to be better off in urban communities; more opportunities and more variety. I have, therefore, been thinking about what it is that make people move to urban communities. I belive we need to look at the concepts “quality of life” or “the good life”; how do people understand them and what must be in place in a community so people want to live there; so their demands for “quality of life” is met. We need to move the government emphasis away from higher education and research being employment affairs and linked to the area´s strength, to looking at higher educational values and research for the individuals in these areas. It might be important to keep in mind certain guiding principles to ensure human well-being, such as “equity”, “social inclusion” and “interaction”, “security” and “adaptability”.
Anna gudrunedrardsdottir kiruna28feb12
Do education and research activities matter in rural areas? Anna Guðrún Edvardsdóttir Ph.D student at School of Education University of Iceland
Myself• Born in Reykjavík• Lived in a small town (Bolungarvík) in Northwest Iceland for 24 years• Was a teacher and a principal at the local compulsory school• Was chairman of the municipality• Was chairman of the Association of the municipalities of the Westfjords
The research questions – main study• The guiding research question: What aspects of the knowledge society system have an effect on the rural development system and sustainability system in rural communities in Iceland and Scotland?• The subquestions are: 1. How do the knowledge society system, the rural development system and the sustainability system work individually and together and how do they affect each other? 2. What is the educational, sociological and political discourse about the three systems in Iceland and in Scotland? 3. Do East Iceland and Westfjords in Iceland and the Highlands and Islands in Soctland function differently in any way? If yes/no, how and why?
Westfjords 12000 In 199 1transfer of quota between companies allowed 10500 10000 10000 9722 College Snow-avalances established in Patreksfjörður 8000 in Ísafjörður 1982 1970 1987 – 1993: Difficulties in the 6955population fishing industry, several First research 6000 businesses go bankrupt institute, Natural History Institute, established 4000 1976 -1980: Stern trawlers in every fishing community. Establishment of In 1995 snow the quota system avalances in The University 2000 in 1983 Súðavík and Center of the Flateyri Westfjords established in 2005 0 1971 1981 1991 2011
East Iceland16,00014,000 13975 12953 13187 1236012,000 11,31610,000 The power plant and the College In 1991 transfer of aluminium plant was 1976 - 1980. 8,000 established in quota between launched in 2007 Stern trawlers in Egilsstaðir in companies allowed every 1979 community 6,000 First research The East Iceland 4,000 institute, Natural Knowledge Establishment of Snow avalances in the quota system History Institute Network Neskaupstaður 1974 in 1983 established in 1995 established in 2006 2,000 0 1971 1981 1991 2007 2011
Westfjords• Fishing industry relies on demersal fish• Agriculture small• Other natural resources limited• Tourist sector small
East Iceland• Fishing industry relies both on demersal fish and pelagic• Agriculture substantial• Waterfalls suitable for electricity• Aluminium plant• Tourist industry bigger than in the Westfjords
University students in Iceland 1997 - 2011 25000 20000N 15000umbe 10000r 5000 0 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Distance learning students inWestfjords and East Iceland 1997-2006200180160140120100 Westfjords East Iceland80604020 0 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Knowlege and research institutions in Iceland 1000N 900 800u 700m 600 500b 400 300e 200 Westfjordsr 100 East Iceland 0
The knowledge society s development• Development of KS has been used as a governmental tool for rural development• Is believed to be a foundation for powerful economy• Is linked to employment matters• Is presented as a tool to reverse migration from rural areas – What about sustainable rural communities and well-being of rural people?
SustainabilityThe radical view of a nested systems for Re-interpretation of the nested model ofunderstanding factors of sustainability. sustainable development
Social sustainability, higher education and rural development• Involves an individual‟s capacity to contribute to his/her own and the community‟s well-being.• Involves a community‟s capacity to engage in collective action in order to improve and sustain a quality of life.• All this happens in the framework the environment sets.• The environment can both be a challenge and a resource.
Social sustainability, higher education and rural development• Higher education and research can play a big role in social sustainability.• Universities need to have distance learners in mind when they plan research projects and study lines, not only what is “suitable” for the rural areas.• Universities need to develop a curriculum which nurtures sustainable knowledge, skills and values.• Sustainable education - transformative learning
Population in Westfjords 1998 - 201210000 9000 8000 7000 6000 5000 Total 4000 Males 3000 Females 2000 1000 0
Population in East Iceland 1998 - 20121800016000140001200010000 Total 8000 Males 6000 4000 Females 2000 0
University students – gender perspectives 1997 - 2010200001800016000140001200010000 Alls 8000 Karlar 6000 Konur 4000 2000 0
Distance learning students in East Iceland 1997 - 2006200180160140120 Total100 80 Males 60 Females 40 20 0 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Rural women• Research has shown that rural women: – live in communities that favour male values – have more responsibility for the household – have less „action space‟ – have fewer opportunities – have limited access to the area‟s rescources – do not have the same access to power in local politics – use higher education to strengthen their status – decide on the family residence
Conclusions• The RDP emhasise higher education and research activities as key players in regional development.• In spite of increased number of research institutions and development of distance learning the migration from rural areas has not stopped.• We need to look at the concept “quality of life” or “the good life”.• Stop linking higher education and research activities to the economy.• Consider social sustainability.
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