University of Calgary

Colleen Kawalilak

  • Associate Dean - International
  • Professor

Currently Teaching

Not currently teaching any courses.


Dr. Kawalilak joined the Werklund School of Education in 2004 after completing her MEd/PhD in Adult, Community, and Higher Education at the University of Calgary. Prior to this she worked as: a social worker with Services for the Handicapped, Child Protection, and Family Life Education (Parent Resource Unit) with Alberta Social Services (1973-1981); Instructor and Program Coordinator, Bow Valley College (1981-2000); and as a Teaching & Learning Centre Consultant, SAIT Polytechnic (2000-2004). Dr. Kawalilak’s extensive background in planning and delivering programs for adult learners in a variety of traditional, non-traditional, and diverse adult work and learning contexts informs her research, teaching, and service in our undergraduate and graduate programs.

Colleen’s work as Associate Dean International includes the negotiation of international agreements that support students and faculty with opportunities to work, learn, and research in diverse contexts. Colleen provides leadership in support of the Werklung School academic plan with a focus on internationalization, advancing intercultural capacities, and equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). She is actively engaged in supervising graduate students and teaching graduate courses.

Research & Scholarly Activity

Dr. Kawalilak teaches and supervises students who areas of interest and research are located in adult education and adult learning in diverse formal and informal, work and learning contexts. She is interested in the power and potential of dialogue within safe, challenging, and inclusive spaces that support diversity, cross/intercultural competencies and humility, knowledge acquisition, knowledge sharing, and transcending cultural differences to a place of common ground. Dr. Kawalilak's current research focuses on lifelong learning in professional contexts, reflexive practice, work and learning within and across spaces of cultural difference, comparative education, relationship formation supported and informed by dialogue (trust, inclusion, compassion, care, and authentic relationship), and fostering a culture and practice of ethical internationalization in higher education .

Current Projects:

Teachers Reflecting Upon Study Abroad Sojurns (SSHRC)

Reflective Practice and Pre-Service Teachers: Teaching Across Borders

Advancing Intercultural Capacities and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

International Advisory Committee (IAC) Werklund School of Education (Chair)

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (UofC Faculty Committee)

Dimensions  (UofC  Committee)

Associate Deans and Directors Counsil (University of Calgary International


University of Calgary

University of Calgary

Bachelor of General Studies
Athabasca University

Professional & Community Affiliations

Dr. Kawalilak remains active in the community through her research, service, and facilitation work that focuses on adult learning, teaching and learning for adult educators, strategic planning, and diversity and ethics awareness education. She volunteers her time on the Research Ethics Board (REB) with Bow Valley College and has led research initiatives for the College in First Nations communities. She has delivered numerous workshops/training sessions for SAIT Polytechnic in strategic planning, action planning, ethics, diversity, and inclusion. Her expertise has extended to the development and facilitation of online courses for the University of Victoria in the Certificate in Adult Learning program.


  • Canadian Association for the Study of Adult Education (CASAE)
  • Comparative and International Education Society of Canada (CIESC)
  • Canadian Association for the Study of Educational Administration (CASEA)
  • Canadian Association for the Study of Education (CSSE)
  • Canadian Educational Researchers' Association (CERA)
  • Canadian Association for the Study of Women and Education (CASWE)
  • Citizenship and Education Research Network (CERN)
  • European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA)
  • Standing Conference on University Teaching and Research in the Education of Adults (SCUTREA)
  • European Association for International Education (EAIE)
  • International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences (IISES)
  • Alliance for International Education (AIE)

Selected Publications

Dressler, R., Kawalilak, C., Crossman, K., Becker, S. (2019). Teacher-participants in follow-up study abroad research. Chapter in preparation for J. MacGregor & J. Plews (Eds.) Designing second language study abroad research: Critical reflections on methods and data. New York: Palgrave. 

Kawalilak, C., & Groen, J. (2021).  Adult learning.In T. S. Rocco, M. C. Smith, R. C. Mizzi, L. Merriweather, & J. Hawley (Eds.), The Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education,  2020 Edition. American Association for Adult and Continuing Education. 73-80.

Arthur, N., Becker, S., Dressler, R., Crossman, K., Kawalilak, C. (2020). Pre-service teachers and study abroad experiences: Don't forget about them when they come home. Teaching and Teacher Education, 89 Advance online publication. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2019.102979 

Dressler, R., Becker, S. Kawalilak, C., Arthur, N. (2018). The cross-cultural reflective model for post-sojourn debriefing. Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives, doi:10.1080/14623943.2018.1530207 

Kawalilak, C., & Groen, J. (2016). Building bridges not barriers: Adult education and pre-service teacher education. In G. Strohschen & Associates (Ed.), The metagogy project: A theorem for a contemporary adult education praxis (pp. 135-153). Atlanta, GA: American Scholars Press.

Kawalilak, C., & Groen, J. (2016). Restorying the present by revisiting the past: Unexpected moments of discovery and illumination through museum learning. Journal of Adult and Continuing Education (JACE), 0(0), 1-16. SAGE.

Kawalilak, C., & Groen, J. (2016). Building bridges not barriers: Adult education and pre-service teacher education. In G. Strohschen & Associates (Ed). The Metagogy Project A Theorem for a Contemporary Adult Education Praxis (pp. 135-153). Atlanta, GA: American Scholars Press.

Groen, J., & Kawalilak, C. (2016). Creating spaces for transformative learning in the workplace. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 152, 61-71. Jossey-Bass.

Groen, J., & Kawalilak, C. (2014). Pathways and narratives of adult learning in personal professional, and education contexts. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press [Monograph].

Kawalilak, C., & Groen, J. (Eds.). (2014). Adult education within faculty of education contexts [Special Issue]. Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education/CJSAE, 26(2). Retrieved from


UCalgary Teaching Award for Graduate Supervision (2019)                 

UCalgary Internationalization Achievement Award (2018) Program Award: Teaching Across Borders (TAB)

Distinguished Graduate Supervisor Award (2018) Werklund School of Education

Great Supervisor Award (FGS) (2016) Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Calgary

Great Supervisor Award (FGS) (2014) Faculty of Graduate Studies                                                  

Curriculum Review/Team Member (Teaching & Learning) (2014) Taylor Institute, University of Calgary


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