Over the last 20 years, the Learning Exchange near Main and Keefer in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has quietly worked to become a trusted part of one of the most complex neighbourhoods in North America, an important academic unit of the university, and a model for university-community engagement.
According to Kathleen Leahy, director of the Learning Exchange, “We flip the idea of ‘the expert’ on its head. We help the university connect with the Downtown Eastside, and vice versa, so they can learn from each other. That’s at the heart of it.”
Everything the Learning Exchange does – community drop-in, digital and English literacy, arts-based learning, Indigenous cultural programming, student learning, and community-based research – is done in collaboration with community organizations and community members, many of whom lead the activities.
In celebration of the centre’s 20th anniversary, the Learning Exchange spoke with six community and university partners on how they influence and are influenced by their connections with the Learning Exchange, the many ways they interact with the centre and each other, and their hopes for the Learning Exchange’s next 20 years.
Read the full story on the Learning Exchange website.
The valuable work undertaken at the Learning Exchange is one example of how UBC is engaging with diverse partners to listen, learn and develop shared values for effective engagement, and to reinforce a culture of reciprocity (Strategy 20: Co-ordinated Engagement).