Shared Action Learning

Co-reasearchers and the SDR team

Co-reasearchers and the SDR team

Cape Town Project Center (CTPC) students have been working in Cape Town and surrounding communities every year on various community development projects since 2007 in conjunction with many sponsoring NPOs and NGOs. Over the years, Shared Action Learning (SAL) has become a central concept of CTPC projects, setting the projects apart from other Worcester Polytechnic Institute Interactive Qualifying Projects. SAL is based on the concept of completing projects alongside the people that will receive the benefits of the project. This concept has proven especially valuable in the complex and unstable environments CTPC students work in.

Initially, SAL was utilized to establish a mutual sense of trust among all involved as well as to gain insight into what project aspects would be most beneficial to implement. A core team of co-researchers taught the “ways of the streets” and the importance of treating street people equally. They introduced us to others in their community who expressed interest in sharing their stories and ideas with us and gave us feedback on our ideas. Their collaboration with us was instrumental in helping us deciding a course of action for the project as a team. One of the main ideas we implemented that was generated by our sponsors and co-researchers was the Law Enforcement Map because law enforcement was a current issue that presented challenges in the lives of many street people we met, and we all agreed that the map would also help build community as part of the project.

SAL continued to influence this project once we started to implement our ideas. We had multiple discussions on the best way to approach ideas to ensure they would not be only beneficial for the community but also sustainable. Co-researchers and sponsors often took the lead in planning, which is quite important since they will be instrumental in continuing aspects of this project. In these discussions, each member of the team brought a different perspective and insight into each decision. However, even with all the planning, it was important to reflect as we progressed on the aspects that worked and those that did not so we could revise them to produce the best final outcomes possible.

To learn more about Shared Action Learning and its role in CTPC projects, click here.