Tom Sork was born in Orange, California. He grew up on a farm and lived in Huntington Beach until the age of 14 when his family moved to Dixon, California where he attended high school, graduating in 1966. He attended Colorado State University where he received a B.Sc. in Agriculture (Animal Sciences) in 1970. Upon graduation he began work as a conference coordinator in CSU’s Office of Conferences and Institutes, his first professional work experience as an adult educator.

While working there he began a part-time masters program in adult and continuing education and graduated with an MEd in 1973. From 1973-1975 he completed coursework toward the PhD in adult education at Florida State University during which he was an intern with FSU’s Division of Continuing Education.

From 1975-1977 he served as Assistant Director of Continuing Education at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. During this time he also completed his doctoral thesis, graduating in 1978. His first full-time academic appointment was in the Department of Adult and Continuing Education at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln where he worked until 1981 when he accepted a position in the adult education program at the University of British Columbia where he currently teaches. His research and teaching focus on educational planning and professional ethics in adult education. His hobbies include various outdoor pursuits, photography and genealogy.

Research Projects

Ethics in the Curriculum: A Study of Ethical Principles and Moral Imperatives Embedded in the Curricula of Adult Education Graduate Programs
Prospects for a Global Core Curriculum in Adult Education

Selected Publications


Sork, Tom & Newman, Mike. (2004). Program development in adult education and training. In G. Foley (Ed.), Dimensions of Adult Learning: Adult Education and Training in a Global Era (pp. 96-117). St. Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1741142822

Sork, Thomas J. (2005). Ethics. In L. English (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Adult Education (pp. 222-228). Houndsmill, Hampshire, UK/New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-4039-1735-3

Sork, Thomas J. (2005). Needs assessment. In L. English (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Adult Education (pp. 422-426). Houndsmill, Hampshire, UK/New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-4039-1735-3

Grosjean, Garnet & Sork, Thomas J. (2007). Going online: Uploading learning to the virtual classroom. In S. C. O. Conceicao (Ed.), Teaching strategies in the online environment (pp. 13-24) (New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education no. 113). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISSN 1052-2891

Sork, Thomas J. (forthcoming summer-2009). Applied ethics in adult and continuing education literature. In L. Burge (Ed.), Negotiating dilemmas of practice: Applied ethics in adult education (New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Sork, Thomas J. (forthcoming, late 2009). Planning and delivery of adult learning experiences. In C. Kasworm, A. D. Rose, & J. Ross-Gordon (Eds.), Handbook of adult and continuing education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Larsson, Staffan; Boud, David; Abrandt Dahlgren, Madeleine; Walters, Shirley & Sork, Tom. (2005). Confronting Globalisation: Learning from Intercontinental Collaboration. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 42 (1), 61-71.

Boud, David; Dahlgren, Lars Owe; Abrandt Dahlgren, Madeleine; Larsson, Staffan; Sork, Thomas J. & Walters, Shirley. (2006). Creating a ‘world class’ programme: reciprocity and constraint in networked global collaboration. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 25 (6), 609-622.


Courses Taught

ADHE 329: Planning Short Courses, Workshops and Seminars

ADHE 510: Research Traditions in Adult Education

ADHE 514: Adult Education Program Planning Theory

ADHE 515: Adult Education Program Planning Practice

EDST 596A: Ethics and Educational Leadership

EDST 601: First Year Doctoral Seminar (PhD)

EDST 602: Second Year Doctoral Seminar (PhD)

EDST 602: Second Year Doctoral Seminar (EdD)