December 6, 2017

“And yet it moves“ — New forms of governance in public adult education organisations

Seminar with Dr. Michael Schemmann, University of Cologne, Germany
Wednesday, December 6, 12:00 – 1:00 P.M.
Ponderosa Commons Oak House (PCOH) Room 2012

Germany’s Volkshochschulen, best translated as public evening institutes of adult education, are well known amongst the population and get excellent results in terms of participant evaluations and satisfaction surveys. At the same time, recent image analyses show that they are considered to be “outmoded,“ “old-fashioned,“ and “inflexible.“ In contrast to these characterizations, public adult education organisations have been affected by massive changes which require flexibility and resilence to cope with. As examples the following aspects can be pointed out:

  • the increased influence of the European Union in particular on the formulation of strategic goals and benchmarks for the development of national and regional adult education systems,
  • a trend towards a reduction of task- and target-oriented public funding and the extension of participation-oriented as well as project funding,
  • the introduction of obligatory quality management systems for almost all adult education organisations,
  • the expansion of network structures and the cooperation between adult education organisations

These changes caused a new form of governance of public adult education organisations. However, empirically we know very little about this new form of governance and the consequences it has for the organisations.

This seminar follows up on these questions and presents first results of the project GLOW which is funded by the German Research Association (Deutsch Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG). Following the theoretical perspective of “Educational Governance“ (Kussau/Brüsemeister 2007; Altrichter 2010), changes within the constellation of actors as well as the forms of coordination between them will be analysed based on 9 German-wide case studies.


Dr. Michael Schemmann is professor and Chair of Adult Education at the University of Cologne in Köln, Germany. His research interests are in the structures, governance and organization of adult education as well as international comparative adult education. He is Editor of the International Yearbook of Adult Education (published annually since 1969) and is a Visiting Professor at the University of Hildesheim in Germany and the University of Linz in Austria. Current externally-funded research projects include the governance of adult education organizations and work-oriented basic adult education.