Call for Papers, 12th Conference of the ESREA Network ‘Between Global and Local – Adult Learning and Communities’, ‘Looking back for the future. Reconsidering adult learning and communities’ Seville, September 16-18, 2021.
Sometimes we can feel that the broad and often celebrated goals of adult education (see the SDGs for Education) need to be re-examined critically and need, too, to be put to the test in the light of different strands of research carried out in diverse local, national, social or cultural fields, where people are active, understanding and changing lives.
If education and learning goals are to be achieved, active participation and collaboration between communities around the world is necessary. The COVID-19 pandemic, in all its contradictory manifestations, has displayed in glaring fashion how urgent collaboration across borders and generations and communities was and remains. While any practical change will be driven by measures taken at national, regional and local governing levels, this will obviously need to be supported by diverse social groups, which means that no simple solutions at local levels are immediately available and that new forms of cooperation, new social alliances, novel forms of struggle and mobilisation must be developed and put into practice.
It is imperative, too, to promote processes that generate engagement with adult learning at the community level. The goals and targets set out in the agendas of UNESCO, the EU and beyond can, if at all, only be achieved if members of local communities take responsibility for realising sustainable forms of learning in their own context.
We want to ask whether communities can realistically be engaged to make global goals their own local goals? The role of adult education and learning in community processes has changed and, under the pressure of global scenarios referred to above, continues to change and demand from us new analyses, and that we take up new positions in order to understand. We are not interested in adult education only as a question of developing skills to read, write, make calculations and so on, or to simply acquire competences to become “employable”, though the relative importance of each of these is clearly not in question.
Adult education and learning, as has been pointed out already (Evans, Kurantowicz, & Lucio-Villegas, 2016, p. 2) can, however, be understood as well as a real process to help people to read the world and change it, a more general tool that is so important in the life of individuals and communities.
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