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Human Learning Systems

People working in public service increasingly crave a new approach to navigating the complex issues of the 21st century. 

Climate change, poverty, inequality, poor health, and outdated infrastructure all require government employees and organisations that partner with governments to adopt new ways of working together and resolving problems. 

A new approach to public service 

Human Learning Systems is a radically different and research-backed way of resourcing and organising public service. It has been developed based on real-life case studies from across the world and focuses on three key principles:

1. Being human

The purpose of public service is to support human freedom and flourishing. To respond to each person’s unique context, public service should be bespoke by design, and built on strong relationships and trust.

2. Enabling continuous learning

Public service should be a process of ongoing exploration and learning: workers and residents exploring and learning together. The primary task of public managers and leaders is to create effective learning environments.

3. Supporting healthy systems

Outcomes cannot be “delivered” by public service - they are created by whole systems: all the relationships and factors in someone’s life. Outcomes are made by healthy systems - systems in which all the people involved can collaborate and learn together.

Want to learn more?

Introducing Human Learning Systems

Join one of our free webinars featuring Professor Toby Lowe, the leading researcher behind HLS, for an introduction to the core concepts. Feel free to invite a colleague or two.

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Getting started with Human Learning Systems

Our half-day workshop will help you explore how to start using a human learning systems approach in your work. We aim for you to leave the session with a clear idea of the next steps you can take.

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Become a skilled convener

Navigating complex issues involves bringing people together across systems, perspectives, and points of difference. Whatever your role in the system, convening and facilitating groups is a necessary skill. Our course will take your convening skills to the next level.

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Contact us about being a learning partner

Supporting you in applying the Human Learning Systems approach so you can foster continuous learning and experimentation in your work.


We all want to create a better world, but how to get there? Continuing to implement the traditional models and expecting different outcomes doesn’t make sense. I have been part of using Human Learning Systems in practice, employing the approach to work with three different layers of influence. Therefore, I can testify it enables better outcomes. And, not only with existing problems but also in building adaptive learning capacity in the system to tackle future challenges.

Olli-Pekka Heinonen, Director-General of the International Baccalaureate

Human Learning Systems is the most insightful and helpful work that I have come across. It challenges stale approaches of top down and provider centred services and encourages us to work with people – listening to them and understanding what matters to them - acting with authenticity and integrity and working together.

Ken Jarrold CBE, Chair of the Council of Governors and Board of Directors Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

It is unquestionably a better and kinder way to do public service.

Gary Wallace, Public Health Specialist, Office of the Director of Public Health, Plymouth City Council

Learn more about applying the Human Learning Systems approach to your work 

Do you want to learn more about this approach to public service? 

A group of people and organisations, including the Centre for Public Impact, have come together to help make the Human Learning Systems approach the “new normal” for public management.

Explore what we've learned in our e-book, Human Learning Systems: Public Service for the Real World.

Read the e-book

A practical guide for the curious

Dive into our guide, developed with Healthcare Improvement Scotland and Iriss, designed to help any organisation that contributes to public service apply Human Learning Systems. It enables them to explore, learn, and respond to the unique strengths and needs of each person, family, and community member they serve.

Read the guide

Case studies

Explore case studies of Human Learning Systems in action from around the world.

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Watch the video

Watch this video to explore the potential of Human Learning Systems.

An overview Human Learning Systems

Want a quick overview of Human Learning Systems?

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Get in touch

Would you like support or advice on learning more about the Human Learning Systems approach and applying it to your work?

Get in touch, and let’s discuss how we can work together.