Second Conference of the ESREA Network on Policy Studies in Adult Education
Interrogating Sustainability in Adult Learning Policy:
European and Global Perspectives
Date: 18–20 June 2014
Venue: Kroghstræde 3, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
Host: Department of Learning and Philosophy
Program with paper sessions is now available - updated 12 June 2014
Papers for download available for participants - please contact the secretary for login information
Improved learning opportunities for adults are urgently needed – opportunities, for both young and mature adults, which strengthen their capacity to meet the challenges of life in today’s world of possibility and risk. Recent social and economic crises, as well as climate change and biodiversity, underline the urgent need for sustainability in societies and lifestyles – and for adult learning policies and institutions that can contribute to this.
The 2014 ESREA Policy Studies conference will interrogate the political aims and achievements of sustainability in adult learning. It draws inspiration from the UNESCO declaration on Education for Sustainable Development (2009): how can its emphasis on participatory, critical teaching and learning methods which can motivate and empower learners to change their behaviour, and take action, for sustainable development be incorporated in policies – in Europe and the world? Social and economic crises have shown the fragility of existing institutions and policies. The development of sustainable policies and practices for adult and lifelong education has become vital.
In this situation it is important to analyse how sustainability is – and could be – integrated into policies for adult learning in the multi-level context of different national, social and cultural environments, in which national and transnational levels of governance interact. It is also important to interrogate critically the concept of sustainable development itself.
Adult education is generally less institutionalised than primary, secondary and tertiary education. Many different actors in education, business and civil society, as well as national governments and transnational organizations, interact in shaping adult education. Studies of adult learning policy must examine power differentials, patterns of competition and collaboration, and the various educational rationalities involved – both in the structures and among the actors in the field. They should seek to uncover the anatomy of policies and the conditions that shape them, and to identify strategies and lines of action that could contribute to a more sustainable provision of good learning opportunities.
Studying adult learning policies raises important theoretical and methodological questions. Research will often need to draw on concepts and methods from different disciplines, such as political science, sociology, cultural studies as well as education. The interfaces between institutionalized education, learning and life-worlds are crucial to adult education, and combinations of qualitative and quantitative methods will often be needed. The normative assumptions underlying policies need to be delineated and analysed. Although policy processes increasingly have trans-national dimensions, comprehensive data on the development of institutions and policies for adult learning is still mainly available in national contexts and languages