Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät - Abteilung Erwachsenenbildung/ Weiterbildung



Professor Danny Wildemeersch

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven



Limit experiences: Adult education and commitment in the 21st century

Limit experience is a central notion in diverse theories of adult education. It refers to challenges in the lives of adults that provoke intensive processes of reflection and action, that may result into new directions in the life-course. One of the important challenges I have struggled with, both in theory and in practice, is the paradox of emancipation that characterizes many educational practices. It relates to the question already raised by Immanuel Kant: How shall I cultivate freedom under conditions of compulsion?  Educators often aspire the emancipation of their participants, yet, in doing so they again reinforce dependency.

In my presentation, I will explore how different theorists of (adult-)education have dealt with this paradox. I will furthermore argue that the French philosopher Jacques Rancière has developed challenging answers to this question, while creating new perspectives on the meaning of emancipation. In his view, emancipation is not something to be achieved at the end of the educational process, but an assumption to depart from in various educational and arts practices. The inspiration that Rancière has brought, also helps to redefine the meaning of commitment in the future of adult education.


Professor Peter Mayo

University of Malta


Adult Educational Research and the Politics of Indignation in 'These Times'

My keynote will focus on the challenges for education within the context of a politics of indignation. It will outline some of the major issues characterising manifestations  of the politics of indignation in these 'hard' though interesting times in different parts of the globe, notably Europe, North America and the Arab world. It will highlight concerns expressed by indignant protestors in these manifestations who make their presence felt in the globalised squares and cities of these countries (Austria, Greece and Egypt in particular) and highlight alternative adult learning measures that have emerged from these protests and their implications for adult education within movements today.



Professor Katarina Popović

University of Belgrade



Adult Education - Lost in a Transition?

The keynote questions the contemporary role of adult education as the field of practice and even more as the scientific discipline. The author criticizes the current dominant discourse about the lifelong learning and adult education as non-authentic and genuine one, but borrowed or imposed by economic discourses.

Using historical examples and analyzing the role adult education played in different historical and socio-economic contexts, author suggests the hypo-thesis that the science of adult education today gave up asking the most important questions – those about goal, meaning, and values. In the course of transition from postmodernism to post-postmodernism, while the former was slowly losing its power, adult education was losing its critical and/or leading role, becoming unable to answer the biggest challenges of nowadays society –  ideological, political, economical, ecological and personal.

While adult education practice is successfully “serving” the paradigms created in other fields, such as productivity, competitiveness, mobility, skillfulness etc, the science of education is powerless when it comes to the policy creation (on national, European and international level), to the tendencies of global development and to global problems.

Has adult education lost it’s identity and it’s purpose?