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Adult Learning

What is the Adult Learning specialization?

The mission of the Adult Learning specialization (PhD, EdD, MA, MEd Specialist) at the University of Calgary is to deliver quality programs and courses for individuals whose experience, interests, research and practice spans diverse adult teaching and learning contexts; engage in scholarship concerned with community engagement, policy development and critique, theories of adult learning, and diversities and contexts; and contribute to university, local, national and international organizations and initiatives.

Faculty Members

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Degrees Offered

List of degrees we offer.

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Program Activities

Degrees Offered




MEd Specialist
- Adult Community and Higher Education
- Work and Learning

MEd Interdisciplinary
- Adult Learning for Social Justice - 2016

Program Goals

Foundations of adult education and learning
The foundations of adult education and learning are based on the fundamental purpose of adult education, which is to contribute to "really useful knowledge" that helps create a more equitable world at individual, family, community and societal levels" (Nesbit, 2006, p. 17). How this purpose is manifested is explored through the practice of adult education: the basis for the theoretical development of our field. As we explore the practice of adult education and learning, we delve into philosophical underpinnings and trace its historical roots. We also draw from such foundational disciplines as history, sociology, philosophy and psychology. Finally, because adult education and learning is pre-dominantly a social activity, it is important locate our understanding of the purpose and practice of adult education and learning within specific social, political and economic contexts;

Work-related and workplace learning
Work-related and workplace learning is becoming an increasingly central topic in both the research and practice of adult education and learning. We acknowledge that work-related and workplace learning is located within multiple relationships that connect learning, the workplace and society. Because underlying assumption is that neither the workplace nor anyone in it exists in isolation from one other or the surrounding environment, we situate our teaching and research within broader social, political and economic contexts and pressures. In turn, we recognize that our work in the pillar of work-related and workplace learning offers a significant developmental site for adult learning, change and resistance;

Community and international engagement
As adult educators, facilitators, and practitioners in a variety of diverse adult work and learning contexts, (formal and informal, traditional and non-traditional), how do we engage with and respond to opportunities and challenges brought about by differences? In the variety of communities we participate in, what does principle-centered and ethical community engagement mean? Who determines what communities need, how community concerns are addressed, and how to develop community capacities? Impacted by globalization, internationalization then speaks to how we as individuals, communities, and societies, respond to globalization. As concerned and engaged citizens, how do we respond and who and what are we in service of? As active, adult, lifelong learners and agents of change, how do we engage with, advocate for, promote, and achieve social change; and

Encountering and crossing cultural borders
Like other fields of scholarship and practice, adult education now exists in a context characterized by movement – of people, products, values, and ways of being and knowing. This pillar recognizes that border-crossing entails the possibility of both coming together and understanding cultural diversities in values and norms. Moreover, any scholarly field can be seen in terms of its own culture; the culture of adult education is multi/inter/transdisciplinary, informed by ideas and scholars from within adult education, as well as from sociology, social work, cultural studies, business, psychology, women's studies, other branches of education, and other fields. We welcome learners, teachers, researchers and practitioners whose backgrounds and interests span some or all of these fields, and invite them to engage in what it means to live, work and study within and across various kinds of borders.

Career Options

Adult education is a truly vast field. Graduates from one of the programs in Educational Studies in Adult Learning hold or pursue employment in an array of settings, occupations and jobs. Students have prior education and experience in a range of disciplines and fields, and come from and return to positions in higher education, not-for-profit or health care organizations, the corporate sector, or as contractors/consultants. From patient and continuing professional education, to training and development, to teaching classes and developing or facilitating workshops, to managing and delivering public education strategies -- a credential in this Educational Studies area fosters knowledge about and understanding of how to work with adult learners.