Voluntary-based study circles and related municipal policies: international best practices


Working Paper: 




These case studies are diverse in style, length and content. They approach this significant subject from different contexts and directions. They are presented here in the authors’ own words and ways of seeing, edited only for ease of reading and understanding.

Together they make a valuable contribution to a theme increasingly important for the evolution and effective development of adults’ and communities’ learning in a time of rapid and disruptive change. Their diversity may make it harder for governments and lobbyists at different levels to say what should be done there.

However, they pose essential questions about what study circles mean to different countries, how they are evolving, and the different kinds of utility that they offer There is no doubt that we are moving deeper and faster into a certain global crisis that has implications for all as it is a time where globalisation, digitalisation, migration and demographic change are moving and shaking our people and societies.

What roles are there for study circles, for community learning centres, for learning cities and regions – all trying to get close to lifelong learning and related policies, strategies or even systems in this context? Where are we with this discussion in the arena and agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), especially when we do want to contribute to more than to goal four as quality education?

These cases and their review show also that study circles may be helpful to be a viable source for the much needed debates on all the seventeen goals in a meaningful and participatory way by the people themselves.

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Duke, C. & Hinzen, H. (Eds.) (2020) Voluntary-based study circles and related municipal policies: international best practices. CR&DALL Working Paper. CR&DALL WP701/2020, CR&DALL, Glasgow (UK)


Case studies, learning in later life, university of the third age, sustainable development, self-help, demography, gender, non-formal and informal, local democracy, community learning centre

CR&DALL Themes: 

Discussion topics: