Dr. Stuart Poyntz awarded SSHRC Insight Grant for Youthsites: Charting the Non-Formal Education Sector

December 13, 2017
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Youthsites: Charting the Non-Formal Education Sector

An international comparative study of youth, culture and learning in Canada and the UK

SSHRC Insight Grant, 2015-2019

Research Team

  • Dr. Stuart R. Poyntz, Associate Professor, School of Communication, Simon Fraser University
  • Dr. Michael Hoechsmann, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, Lakehead University
  • Dr. Julian Sefton-Green, Principal Research Fellow, Department of Media and Communication Studies, LSE and Research Fellow, University of Oslo

International Advisory Board

  • Dr. Claudia Mitchell, James McGill Professor, Faculty of Education, McGill University,
  • Dr. Lissa Soep, Senior Producer and Research Director Youth Radio and the MacArthur Foundation Digital Media Learning
  • Dr. Ben Kirshner, University of Colorado and MacArthur Foundation Connected Learning Network
  • Jordi Torrent, United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, UNESCO Media and Information Literacy and Intercultural Dialogue
  • Dr. Leslie Regan Shade, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto,

Project Summary

Despite the robust nature of the non-formal learning sector and its importance as an essential deliverer of creative and cultural learning, research on the role of youth creative arts and media organizations as providers of non-formal education is sparse and often charged with documenting best practices among organizations, rather than the impact of the sector as a whole.  The YouthSites project examines the creative arts sector for youth from socially excluded backgrounds in Vancouver, Toronto and London over the last 25 years. We map the youth participation in out-of-school arts learning and investigate the structural relationship between the development of this sector and the changing role and meaning of creative education, as training for employment in the creative and cultural industries has become a priority across the sector.  We focus on how the non-formal learning sector has been re-imagined and re-calibrated in policy debates, at the level of organizations themselves, and within the lives of participants, instructors and directors. At this historical conjuncture, schooling alone is not capable of providing a universal entitlement to the skills and knowledge required for participating in future societies. In response, societies around the world have directed widespread state investment in non-formal learning organizations across the creative arts. The YouthSites study investigates how this sector has changed and its role in the lives of socially disadvantaged youth across global urban communities.