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"The range of what we think and do

is limited by what we fail to notice.

And because we fail to notice

That we fail to notice

There is little we can do

To change

Until we notice

How failing to notice

Shapes our thoughts and deeds."

R.D. Laing

CACP Executive Global Studies Program

Applying Problem Based Learning and Transformative Leadership Development to Global Research in Policing and Public Safety

An Overview

“… it is not so much what happens to people but how they interpret and explain what happens to them that determines their actions, their hopes, their contentment and emotional well-being, and their performance … A practical implication is that knowledge for the learner does not exist in books or in the experience of the educator. It only exists in the learner’s ability to construe and re-construe the meaning of an experience in his or her own terms.”Jack Mezirow (1991) in Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning

Much has been written and studied about the nature of knowledge and information in the post-modern world. Sociologist and humanist Jurgen Habermas (1987) identified the three forms of intentional learning as instrumental (learning to control and manipulate one’s tools, technologies and environment), communicative (learning to understand the meaning of what is being communicated in social discourse), and emancipatory or critical-reflective (learning to understand oneself and one’s own perspectives on life and its myriad experiences).

There is little doubt that instrumental learning will continue to hold an important place in police, military and technological environments, as time-proven knowledge, science and procedural skills must be passed on to new generations of professionals.  However, in considering the modern challenges facing police leadership in a post 9/11 and a post-modern world in general, with constantly shifting and increasingly global political and economic realities, members of the CACP executive recognized that this traditional model of education would be less effective in building the deeper learning and personal development that today’s and tomorrow’s Canadian police and public safety leadership will require.

Educators have learned a great deal about how the nature of adult learning can be modified to address this challenge. A convergence of social theory, cognitive psychology, and instructional design theory has given rise to a learning philosophy known as constructivism. These theoretical perspectives represent a stark departure from the policing traditions of the “sage on the stage”, a popular form of leadership education which is more reflective of the banking concept of education, wherein knowledge is deposited into the learner.

The 2003 International Best Practices Research Project (IBPRP) was the CACP’s first attempt at introducing executive learning, conceived of, and built upon, the principles of constructivism and Problem-based Learning (PBL), a specific methodology within the constructivist school.

To a large extent, IBPRP proceeded under this model. However, feedback from the participants indicated that the project could have gone much further in adopting and truly reflecting the essential principles.  As a result of the IBPRP experience, both in its successes and its limitations, the Institute for Strategic International Studies (ISIS) Program was formed and the Program Delivery Team committed to raising the bar on this methodology.

ISIS 2006 set out to reflect a more solid and consistent adherence to PBL throughout. The design team determined that to be truly effective, the commitment to PBL must be more overt. In other words, those participating in the experience might benefit from a deeper and more direct awareness of the learning philosophy in which they are immersed.

While other factors may have also been at play, it’s safe to say the 2006 through 2014 cohorts seem to have reinforced much of what the adult education literature has to say about PBL and the importance of being deliberate in its understanding and applications.

The newly re-branded Executive Global Studies Program (CACP Global) builds on past successes and includes enhancements that serve to ensure participants receive a transformative developmental experience, one which invites its participants to examine the very nature of the knowledge and solutions they seek with a view to introducing new ways of knowing into the Canadian policing and criminal justice community.