The Institute is a “think-tank” organization of creative individuals with varied backgrounds, diverse perspectives and a unique set of knowledge, skills, and abilities. We understand:
- How to work at the intersection of research, practice, and policy to effect institutional and community change by bringing rigorous data and thoughtful interpretation to evidence-based decision-making.
- How to connect and coordinate an ever-expanding ecosystem of educational opportunities in communities, by bridging divides that currently balkanize learning institutions such as museums, schools, early childhood offerings, family- and youth-serving and public health organizations, libraries, public parks, gardens, and more.
- How to facilitate community-wide partnerships and collaborations that encourage organizations to understand and support learning across contexts and over time to build lifelong learning infrastructures that support individual growth, vital communities and civic engagement.
- How to effectively and respectfully communicate orally and in writing, collaborate and facilitate, particularly when working with diverse groups and expert advisors.
We have conducted research, evaluation and strategic planning efforts in virtually every type of cultural institution, including small and large facilities, new and more established institutions, located all over the U.S. and abroad. We collaborate with cultural institutions, organizations and cities, countries, and regions in a variety of ways, including: facilitating institutional and organizational strategic planning, providing professional development, conducting multi-institutional or country-wide research studies and organizing symposia and convenings.
We promote participatory approaches that support and build capacity within institutions and which encourage a reflective and responsive relationship between staff, their audiences/users and the broader community. We are firmly committed to advancing the field of free-choice learning –self-motivated learning that fulfills the life-long human quest for knowledge, understanding, and personal fulfilment– and have a demonstrated track record for leading basic research initiatives, actively participating in professional organizations, and contributing important publications to the field.
The current Institute for Learning Innovation builds on the legacy of its predecessor organization of the same name, founded by Executive Director, Dr. John H. Falk in 1986 in Annapolis, MD. Dr. Lynn D. Dierking joined the Institute in 1993 as Associate Director. Under Drs. Falk and Dierking’s leadership, the Institute developed into the pre-eminent free-choice learning research and development organization in the world. After 20 years as director, and with a staff of 25 and an annual budget of over $3 million, Dr. Falk stepped down as director so he could more actively pursue his own research interests. In 2006, Drs. Falk and Dierking moved to Oregon to help create the world’s first graduate program in free-choice learning, becoming Sea Grant Professors of Free-Choice Learning at Oregon State University. Unfortunately in 2012, the Institute’s board of directors dissolved the organization but did vote to return the name and website to the original founders. In 2014, Dr. Falk, along with colleagues Dr. Dierking and Dr. Scott Pattison, re-incorporated the Institute for Learning Innovation in Oregon in order to sustain the organization’s important work.