Call for Chapters

Adult education, public museums and art galleries: Social and cultural animation for change

Darlene E. Clover (University of Victoria)
Kathy Sanford (University of Victoria)
Maureen Park (University of Glasgow)

Public museums and art galleries have been in existence for centuries, and have become ubiquitous features of national landscapes worldwide. In the United Kingdom (UK) there are an estimated 2000 such institutions, and over 250 in the Canadian province of Ontario alone. Historically, museums and art galleries have a reputation for elitism and exclusion and even today, some persist as “traditional sites where knowledge and truth are displayed by the socially powerful and consumed by the powerless” (Golding, 2005, p.51).  However, there is increasing evidence of different examples and ways of operating, of new, more critical and creative processes of adult, social or community education, research and engagement that are contributing to the struggle for social justice and change. Curators, adult educators, and community outreach practitioners are re-positioning exhibition and cuatorial practice, using the arts and new technologies, and developing new partnerships with community organisations, cultural groups, and higher education institutions, all in the interests of social, political, and/or institutional change. We see this as the ‘edge effect’ – a space/process where varied backgrounds, knowledges, practices and theories come together within public art galleries and museums in a zone of transition, a place of less normative structure and more creative and responsive diversity. The ‘edge’ is, therefore, a space/place of transformation, energy, challenge, controversy, movement and possibility.

This edited volume situates museums and art galleries as valuable public pedagogical sites. It recognises the plethora of education, learning, training, participatory research and community development activities for adults, young and old, they provide. It will illustrate the potential to be critically, creatively and oftentimes provocatively effective fora for civic dialogue and engagement through newly adapted approaches to curatorial practice, interpretation, research, exhibitions, adult education and learning. This volume will also illustrate the complexity, diversity, challenge and contributions of these institutions to tackling some of society’s most pressing issues. Adult education is thus defined and understood as pedagogical processes (theories of teaching and learning, methods and practices, participatory research, community partnership building, curation) that demonstrate a commitment to social, gender, cultural, epistemological, and/or ecological justice, equality and change. Adult education emphasises and values human cognitive capacity in terms of different ways of knowing and learning, as well as human creative and aesthetic dimensions. Subsequently, adult education is situated in lived social, cultural and political contexts, makes use of the arts and numerous other types of creative, active learning/engagement approaches and takes place both within and beyond institutional walls. Adult education is a discourse embedded in the ideals of social movements and their progressive visions for change as it works purposefully and intentionally towards helping people to tell their own stories, to engage actively with social issues, and to develop a sense of agency – a thoughtful and engaged citizenry – with the ability to imagine and work towards a fairer, more healthy and sustainable community, society and/or world.

Contributors will be curators, adult educators, community programmers or outreach practitioners, faculty, scholars, PhD students, researchers and activists who work against tradition and other odds, to make change in people’s lives, in their communities, and/or their own institutions.

Topics will include (but are not limited to):

  • working with marginalized populations (both within and beyond institutional walls)
  • exhibition and curation as dialogic and critical practices of education and learning
  • theories of adult education and learning for social engagement and change in museums and/or art galleries
  • paradigms and policies of adult education, learning
  • methods and theories of arts-based adult education and/or creative practice (popular theatre, digital technologies, new science methods)
  • contributions of the arts and artefacts to civic dialogue, engagement and social change
  • historical adult education and learning debates in museums and art galleries
  • museums and art-galleries as sites of participatory research or community development
  • formal (university) or in situ training for art gallery and/or museum educators
  • activist pedagogies (to address social issues such as poverty, class or gender inequity, LGBT issues, diversity, etcetera)
  • partnerships (museum-community, museum-university) and learning
  • indigenous arts-based and curatorial/educational practices
  • women as adult educators and practitioners
  • feminism in public art galleries and museums

Contributions can be case studies, theoretical pieces, adult education/learning policy analyses, historical analyses, current studies, critical reflections on practice, discussions of exhibitions, events, training activities, partnerships, etcetera. Photographs (must have permission to be published and not involve ‘payment’ in any form) are encouraged where/when applicable.

If you would like to contribute to this edited volume, please send a 300-500 word abstract to Darlene Clover:

The deadline for abstracts is February 29, 2015 and decisions will be made by end of March.

University of Victoria
Faculty of Education, Leadership Studies
P.O. Box 3010
Victoria, B.C. V8W 3N4
Fax: 250-721-6190

Lisa R. Merriweather, Ph. D.
Assistant Professor of Adult Education
UNC Charlotte, Dept. of Educational Leadership  9201 University City Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28223
Phone: 704-687-8740; Fax: 704-687-1629 |

Thought for the season:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
— Rainer Maria Rilke