Lifelong learning and outreach in the non-vocational domain:
learning from the case of science.
In, ESREA European Research Conference on the Wider Benefits of Learning: Understanding and Monitoring the Consequences of Adult Learning, Lisbon, Portugal,
This paper is a preliminary study of the wider benefits of the kinds of lifelong learning which aim at personal, cultural and scientific development. Specifically, it focuses on provision using ICT-mediated modes of communication to achieve regional and global outreach, entailing the emergence of “virtual” learning communities which are not geographically limited.
Among disciplines, the natural sciences present us with some particularly interesting questions because of significant recent policy developments at national level (personified in the UK by Lord Jenkin) and at European level (associated, for example, with Commissioner Busquin). Traditional forms of engagement between science and society are being questioned, with implications which are profoundly challenging to educators responsible for the promotion of lifelong learning. Is it helpful to apply a Wengerian analysis based on learning as engagement in social practice? Is science special? Could the case of science and society eventually serve as a template for how other academic communities should engage with society?
This work is based in part on the results of an EU SOCRATES project on general and cultural adult education (GECULT, 1998-2000) supplemented by the experience of more recent efforts to support new forms of outreach and lifelong learning at the University of Southampton.
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