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52nd Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Regions in Motion - Breaking the Path", 21-25 August 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia
Lifelong Learning strategies are provoked by regional politics as necessity to cope with societal, demographic, natural and economic challenges within regional development processes. However the empirical evidence concerning the added value of Lifelong Learning activities for the individual participant on the one hand and the sustainable development of rural areas on the other are scare yet. The present paper aims to contribute to this research gap via investigation of an Austrian case study: the "Montagsakademie" (translated: "Monday Academy") is an informal learning activity by the Karl-Franzens-University Graz, which is transmitted regularly via modern ICT infrastructure into 16 rural regions in Austria. One of the recipients is the Knowledge and Education Centre KB5 in the rural area of South-eastern Styria, which is in the centre of interest in the present paper. Through the dissemination of an anonymous online-questionnaire to the participants of the "Montagsakademie" in KB5 the individual motivations for taking part, the individual benefit (differentiated into personal, social and professional) as well as the estimated added value for the development of the region are investigated. The results of the empirical survey are analyzed by applying a generic framework, consisting of elements from cognitive-learning theory as well as action theory. The results display an outstanding impact of the individual initial situation regarding the participation behaviour: gender, age, children, level of education, employment sector as well as framework conditions due to the occupational activity influence the Lifelong Learning attitude. Also the reasons for participating show a remarkable variety, with enhancement of knowhow for private and occupational purposes being the most frequently mentioned. The personal added value of the participation in the "Montagsakademie" reveals widespread differences between female and male attendants. However, the estimations regarding the effects on the local and regional development are similar and seen in the reduction of reservations concerning science and scientific contents, the establishment of a feeling of togetherness and trust as well as the increase in attractiveness of the community and region. Only the motivation for and implementation of Lifelong Learning activities on the individual level lead to an overall transformation into a Learning region. Thus the paper concludes that the potentials of Lifelong Learning can be seen in the influence on the local and regional development opportunities and capabilities.
rural regional development
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