Call for Papers: Experiences of Adult Education in Britain since 1919

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A one-day workshop to be held at St Hilda’s College, Saturday 14th March 2020

2019 is the centenary of the publication of a foundational text in the history of British adult education: the Ministry of Reconstruction’s Final Report on Adult Education. This laid the groundwork for liberal adult education in Britain. Since then, many thousands of people have participated in adult education. Adult education has been a major catalyst of upward social mobility, particularly for women, and especially for migrant black and minority ethnic women. However, since the beginning of the 2010s and the onset of austerity, funding for adult education has been decimated. It is a vitally important moment to engage with the history of adult education and to draw attention to its significant role as an instrument of change in twentieth-century Britain.

We invite papers for a one-day interdisciplinary workshop at St Hilda’s College in March 2020. The workshop will open up new avenues of research pertaining to the historical development and impact of adult education across a century of profound social, economic and political change. The workshop aims to explore adult education’s potential to re-shape the social and economic trajectories of individuals and communities. A keynote roundtable including speakers Professor Selina Todd, Dr Asma Khan and Melissa Benn will provide a space in which to critically interrogate the concept of adult education.

We are looking for individual papers or panel proposals that explore ideas such as:

  • The experience of students themselves: their motivations for participating in adult education, their experience of doing so, and the consequences for their participation in economic, political and cultural life.
  • The intersections of adult education with sex, race and class.
  • Local and national adult education policy and provision.
  • Adult education and social mobility.
  • Implications of a lack of access to adult education- both socially and individually.
  • Theories of adult education.
  • How we may broadly define adult education to encapsulate the experiences of those whose learning has been informal or autodidactic due to the inaccessibility of formal institutions.

We encourage 250-300 word abstracts on these or any related themes from researchers across humanities disciplines, with a particular focus on historical scholarship.

Please send this and a CV to both and by no later than 12pm Monday 16th December 2019.