Relationships belong at the centre of learning

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Professor John Halsey

Relational learning – an educational approach that puts the sharing of ideas and the importance of relationships front and centre – is the focus of an international event at Flinders University.

The second International Dialogue for Relational Leadership and Learning for Hope-full and Sustainable Futures is being held at Flinders University from 8 to 10 July.

The International Dialogue is a joint initiative of the Flinders School of Education and the Center for Relational Learning in Santa Fe in New Mexico, and the first International Dialogue was held in 2013 in the US in 2013.

Around 60 people from around Australia and overseas are attending the event.

The International Dialogue series is for people interested in progressing a greater role, significance and place for relational leadership and learning in vocations of all kinds – in communities, in personal and professional contexts, with nature and the built environment.

“Relationships are fundamental and foundational to how and what we learn – to our humanity, to our connections and engagement with people, place, and the natural world,” said convener, Professor John Halsey of the School of Education.

The program for the International Dialogue is based around three themes: Relationships – an enduring resource; Hope – a way of becoming fully human; and Sustainability – an evolving pathway.

Professor Tom Fleischner from Prescott College in Arizona is the “Inspirator” for the first theme. His field of expertise is natural history and he will be speaking on the critical importance of our connections with nature.

The second theme will be addressed by Associate Professor Simone Tur, Director of the Yunggorendi First Nations Center for Higher Education at Flinders, who will talk about Indigenous education and “re-Imagining a hopeful future”.

Professor David Giles, Dean of the School Education at Flinders, will speak on the significance of relational sustainability.

A central feature of the Dialogue is the time provided for participants to consider and explore in depth the presentations together with their own knowledge and experiences.

“The international Dialogue is very timely given the recent focus on how important our relationships with each other and the planet are to there being sustainable futures for all,” Professor Halsey said.

“The International Dialogue is also very timely given the apparently relentless pressure to frame most of the critical services and supports we need as individuals and communities in contractual terms. It often feels as though relationships are an afterthought or an optional extra.”

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