June 6th, 2017

The 2017 Paz and Knute Buttedahl Memorial Lecture

Adult Learning and Education in a ‘post-truth society’?

with Shirley Walters

7:00 – 8:15p.m.
Reception to follow
Ponderosa Commons Room 2012
6445 University Boulevard
RSVP at www.edst.educ.ubc.ca/buttedahl

Questions about the roles and effectiveness of adult learning and education (ALE) are being raised sharply particularly in the light of the political developments in both the United Kingdom (UK) with the BREXIT vote to exit the European Union and the USA’s presidential election. The Oxford Dictionary in November 2016 chose “post-truth” as its word of the year, defining the adjective as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”. There are many contemporary examples in addition to BREXIT and the USA elections, for example, amongst AIDS or climate change denialists. Some scholars warn that the internet is helping propagate ignorance as it’s a place where everyone has a chance to be their own expert where we are prey for powerful interests wishing to deliberately spread ignorance.  The rise of populist authoritarianism is also seen as a direct threat to adult learning. This is also a time when the Global Report on Adult Learning (UIL 2016) reports on powerful data and practical examples showing that adult learning and education help individuals become and stay healthier, improve their economic prospects, and be more informed and active citizens, no matter where in the world they live. As ALE scholar-activists and practitioners, what do we believe and how should we respond? This presentation encourages critical conversation about these issues.

Shirley Walters is professor emerita of adult and continuing education at University of Western Cape, South Africa, where she directed the Centre for Adult and Continuing Education and the Division for Lifelong Learning over 30 years. She is a feminist and social justice activist working locally and globally. She currently serves as deputy president (Africa) on the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE). Her latest co-edited book (with Astrid von Kotze) is Forging Solidarity: Popular Education at Work 2017 Sense Publishers, Rotterdam.