chapter  15
A social theory of learning
ByETIENNE WENGER
Pages 24

American Etienne Wenger was born in the French-speaking part of Switzerland and, as a young man, he lived in Hong Kong for three years. Later he studied computer science in Switzerland and the US, fi nishing by writing a dissertation on artifi cial intelligence. For ten years he was then a researcher at the Institute for Research on Learning in Palo Alto, California, and it was by the end of this period that he, together with Jean Lave, published the famous book Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation in 1991. This book also launched the concept of “communities of practice” as the environment of important learning, a term Wenger cemented in 1998 and elaborated further in his book Communities of Practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. The following chapter is made up of the more programmatic part of the introduction to that book and a note in which Wenger gives an account of his understanding of other important approaches to learning.