Situated in the context of a conversation between the authors, this paper is both a reflection on past community based practice and a statement of intention for the criticality of dialogic space in the development of civic engaged learning. Through addressing a series of questions held in common, we explore lessons learned through our own educational praxis, explore the conceptual underpinnings of our collaboration and conclude with our early conceptualisation of a dialogic civic learning playground called ‘Urban Dialogues’. The intention of this new relational space is to bring staff and students from various faculties within a higher education institution together with community stakeholders to co-create both the practice of and research on community-based learning and learning-based community development. Pedagogic discourse has posited how participatory civic education can enable an emancipatory agency, serving to advance the socio-cultural, economic, ecological and political livelihoods of a community. It also articulates how that development can be integrated with an enriching of the student learning experience. At the same time, the bringing together of community, educator and student poses challenges, notably in negotiating otherness; i.e., the differences in perspectives, aims, and expectations that each participant brings. Concurrently, discourse on the urban argues that the city is a site of multiplicity, and that we need to recognise that this multivalence can not only enrich but also include dissonance and conflict. The challenge within civic engaged learning is to not only acknowledge but also embrace the opportunity that this difference affords for the mutual illumination of each other through a dialogical encounter. Our conversation, as outlined in this paper, critically considers the potential for such dialogue, and how creative forms of educational practice across disparate fields can enhance student development, meet curricular objectives within higher education and contribute to the common good within a community context.



Publication Date


Publication Title

Thinking Skills and Creativity



Embargo Period


Organisational Unit

School of Art, Design and Architecture