Special Issue "Reimagining Lifelong Learning in Higher Education"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 March 2024 | Viewed by 248
Interests: lifelong learning; adult education; access to higher education; social inclusion
Lifelong learning in higher education should embrace learning in its broadest sense, including the social, cultural and economic development of communities and the region (European Universities Continuing Education Network, n.d.). This seems an inclusive standpoint that should strongly influence the way that learners learn and teachers teach. However, the recent UNESCO (2020) report on Embracing a Culture of Lifelong Learning argues that in many education systems, lifelong learning is an auxiliary system rather than a central concept for education and social policies. This has resulted in fragmented reforms and top-down procedures, effectively disconnecting lifelong learning from the core of education systems and policies. Furthermore, the appreciation of the wider value of lifelong learning often falls short of the ambition to create a learning society in which learning for employability and skills is valued alongside learning for personal growth, community development, active citizenship and the ‘common good’. As Biesta (2006, p.169) suggests, lifelong learning is ‘increasingly understood in terms of the formation of human capital and as an investment in economic development.’ The adoption of this approach in higher education shifts lifelong learning further and further away from it being about a right, towards it being a responsibility, something which adults need to do to ensure they are work-ready throughout their career. This is further compounded by the neoliberalist model of higher education that increases social inequality and in turn drives a more competitive society and economy. While the political rhetoric suggests there is an appreciation of the wider value of learning, education policy very often falls short of the ambition to create a learning society in which learning for employability and skills is valued alongside learning for personal growth, community development, active citizenship and the ‘common good’.
Post pandemic, there is, however, an opportunity to rethink not only new pedagogical possibilities but also the basic purposes of lifelong learning in higher education, and how a renewed vision of education might be harnessed to develop more democratic and just societies. In this Special Issue, we invite authors to reimagine higher education as a system where the most fundamental ambition should be to allow people to cultivate their interests and acquire understanding, experience, and skills in disciplines and areas that excite and intrigue them. How can this vision be embedded within the current neoliberal model of higher education, which is underpinned by privilege, inequality and competitiveness, and works against aspirations of human flourishing and the fostering of human capacities? Neoliberalism does not aim to increase the well-being of everybody but increases social inequality, and this in turn drives a more competitive society and economy.
This Special Issue also welcomes papers that identify how lifelong learning in higher education can reach a broad spectrum of students—post-secondary students, adult learners, professionals who seek to up-grade skills for the workplace, senior citizens taking advantage of their increasing longevity to pursue cultural interests, and others—for high-quality and relevant higher education throughout their lifetime.
In this Special Issue, we ask authors to consider how lifelong learning can be used to reorganize the higher education systems where formal learning dominates and is mostly reserved for young people, and to reflect on how lifelong learning can reinvent the business of higher education as one that is truly inclusive. How can universities post pandemic be places of compassion, wisdom and worthiness? How can they become places where prior privilege does not give priority in engagement, and where the recognition of diversity, equality and inclusion is the premise of formalized higher education where people can flourish? This opportunity is a new educative focus, not a new business model.
This Special Edition provides a forum for authors to share their own work in analyzing and responding to these issues. We welcome research studies and policy, practice-based, and/or theoretical contributions.
Biesta, G. (2006) What’s the Point of Lifelong Learning if Lifelong Learning Has No Point? On the Democratic Deficit of Policies for Lifelong Learning, European Educational Research Journal, 5, (3 & 4), pp.169-180.
Peters, M. et al (2020) Reimagining the new pedagogical possibilities for universities post-Covid-19, Educational Philosophy and Theory, Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/00131857.2020.1777655.
UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning (2020) Embracing a culture of lifelong learning: contribution to the Futures of Education initiative, Available at: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000374112.
Dr. Nalita James
Dr. Anil Awesti
Manuscript Submission Information
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- lifelong learning
- higher education
- democracy and citizenship
- inclusive education
- adult and community education
- transformative learning