Individual Research Interests

Adult Learning and Education in China, Social Theory, Marine Accidents, Asia-Pacific Studies

Research Projects

Roger Boshier is working hard on the following:

Assisting authorities understand the history of adult education and build learning villages, hospitals, districts and cities in China.
Understanding factors contributing to and detracting from safety in commercial fisheries and other marine environments.
Studying self-educated “farm-gate” learners who excel in the America’s Cup and similar extraordinary projects where achieving goals depends on creativity and innovation and not the application of orthodox wisdom.
Fostering, celebrating and studying the ability of ordinary people to learn for themselves outside frameworks established by schools and formal education.

Selected Publications


Boshier, R.W. & Huang, Y. (2007) Vertical and horizontal dimensions of China’s Shuang Yu learning village. Studies in Continuing Education, 29, 1, 51-70.

Boshier, R.W. & Huang, Y. (2007).Untold story of foreign devil adult educators in Shanghai silk factories (1920 to 1949). Adult Education Quarterly, 2007, 57, 4, 329-345.

Huang, Y., Boshier, R.W., Hu, Y. & He, K. (2007). Who knows more about the Internet? University students in Vancouver or Shanghai?  Comparative Education Review (Journal of Beijing Normal University published in Chinese), 28, 46-50.

Boshier, R.W. & Qi, C. (2007). Public administration, lifelong learning and social harmony in 21st Century China. The Rule of Law and Economy  (Chinese), 159 (December 2007), 106-107 & 110. 

Boshier, R.W. & Huang, Y. (2008). In the House of  SoTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) teaching lives upstairs and learning in the basement. Teaching in Higher Education (UK), 13(6), 645-656.

Boshier, R.W. & Huang, Y. (2008).  From Mao to now: Does K’angta still shape higher education in China? Convergence, 41(4), 51-78.

Huang, Y. & Boshier, R.W. (2008).  Human and social capital in China’s learning villages. Convergence, 41 (4), 103-121.

Boshier, R.W. & Huang, Y. (2008).  Hey there Edgar Snow, what happened to the Red Star over Yan’an? Convergence, 41(4), 79-102.

Boshier, R.W. & Qi, C. (2008).  Barriers to building learning hospitals in China. Theoretical Investigation (Journal of the Heilongjiang Party School of the Chinese Communist Party)  6, 176-178 [in Chinese].

Boshier, R.W. (2009). Why is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) such a hard sell? Higher Education Research and Development, , 28(1), 1-14 [in English].

[Routledge/Taylor Francis identified this as one of their “most cited” articles]

Boshier, R.W. & Huang, Y. (2009). Madame Li Li: Communist soldier and revolutionary Chinese woman adult educator. Studies in Continuing Education, 31(1), 45-59 [in English].

Boshier, R.W. & Huang, Y. (2009). More important than guns: Chinese adult education after the long march (1936-1939). Adult Education Quarterly, 60(3), 1-19 [in English]

Boshier, R.W. & Huang, Y. (2009).  Focus on the power of adult learning – the history of the 1984 international conference on adult education. Lifelong Education,7(2), 70-78 [in  Chinese]

Boshier, R.W. (2010).  Have you got it? Overcoming the futility of training mariners about collision regulations. Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 22(2), 47-63 [in English].

Boshier, R.W. & Huang, Y. (2010). Internet knowledge generation gaps in multicultural Vancouver: do children know more than parents? International Journal of Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning, November, 1-18 [in English and Chinese].

Boshier, R.W. & Huang, Y. (2010). Better city, better life: lifelong learning with Canadian characteristics, Part 1, Lifelong Education, 8(3), 70-80 [in English and Chinese].

Boshier, R.W. & Huang, Y. (2010). Better city, better life: lifelong learning with Canadian characteristics, Part 2, Lifelong Education, 8(4), 13-33 [in English and Chinese].

Boshier, R.W. (2011). True north strong and free: three wise men and the founding of CASAE/ACEEA. Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 2 3(2), 11-26.

Xu, M.X. Boshier, R.W. (2011).  Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in a Chinese context. Higher  Education  Development  and   Evaluation

Boshier, R.W. & Xu, M.H. (2012.) Mao was my neighbor: Yao Zhongda and the Canadian “opening” of Chinese adult education. Frontiers in Educational Research,  Beijing Normal University  (under consideration)



Boshier, R.W. (2007)  Madame Li Li: Communist revolutionary, adult educator, lifelong learner. Proceedings of the First Western Region Adult Education Research Conference. Western Washington University. .

Boshier, R.W. (2007). Public administration, ethical governance and learning in the harmonious society of 21st century China. Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on Urban Governance and Community Development, School of Economics and Management, Tongji University, Shanghai, May 23-25th  

Boshier, R.W. (2007) Translating talk into action: How to build the learning society. Proceedings of the Pingtung University (Taiwan) International Conference on Lifelong Learning, October 26-27th. Kaoshiung, Taiwan.

Boshier, R.W. & Huang, Y. (2008) Watch this space: Hope and contradiction inside the Chinese learning initiative. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Teachers College, Columbia University,  March 17-22.

Huang, Y. & Boshier, R.W. (2008)  Barriers on the Road to Chinese learning hospitals. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Teachers College, Columbia University,  March 17-22.

Boshier, R.W. & Huang, Y.  (2008) From Mao to now: Does K’angta still shape higher education in China?  Proceedings of the International Conference on Higher Education Reforms, Nov. 4-6th, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China, pp. 314-337.

Huang, Y & Boshier, R.W. (2009) Wipeout: Is faculty development set for drowning? (Aniquilado! El desarrollo de profesorado se está ahogando?). In Annals of the sixth workshop on higher education reform.  Held at the Departmento de Investigacionnes y de Estudios Avanzados, Cuidad de Mexico, 9-11th November.

Boshier, R.W. (2010). Anti-intellectualism and dodgy claims in university advertising. Paper presented at the annual Higher Education Reform (HER) conference, University of British Columbia, 7-9th October.

Boshier, R.W. (2010). Inner workings of the Vancouver project to send Gansu girls to university. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Comparative and International Education Society (West), California State University Long Beach, 13-17th October.

Boshier, R.W. (2011). Down from the mountain: how Gansu girls get to university. Paper Presented at the Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Montreal, Quebec, May.  

Boshier, R.W. (2011) How lifelong education was turned into an onion. Paper presented to the 9th Higher Education Reform workshop, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany, November.

Boshier, R.W. (2011).  What distinguishes a teaching from a learning hospital? Harsh lessons from China. Paper presented to the Annual conference of the Comparative and International Education Society (West), Stanford University, November.

Boshier, R.W. (2011). Where is the “home” of New Zealand Tertiary Education in a globalizing world? Invited keynote address to the 3rd New Zealand Tertiary Education Summit, Routledge/Informa, Amora Hotel, Wellington, November 28-29th, p. 29.

Boshier, R.W. (2011).  Journeys, maps and voyages into a new dawn. Invited keynote address to the Annual conference of the New Zealand Association for Research in Education, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic/Tauranga Moana, Tauranga, New Zealand, 1 December.

Boshier, R.W. (2012). Theory as whakapapa: how to get research finished while playing with ancestors and cousins. Invited keynote address to the “Inquire, Inspire Research Symposium”, University of Waikato, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, Awanuiarangi Partnership, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, Tauranga, New Zealand.

Boshier, R.W. (2012). A place of mind: inside the University of British Columbia branding game. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 23 April, 20 pp.



Boshier, R.W. & Harré, D. (2008)  Critical Service Learning in New Zealand/Aotearoa. In Strohlesen, G. (Ed.) Challenges and Solution in the Development and Delivery of International Adult Education Programs. Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 139-155. .

Boshier, R.W. (2008) How Royal Roads University went to war on theory and research.  In Lin, J., Brantmeier, E.J., & Bruhn, C.  (Ed.)  Transforming education for peace.  Greenwich: Information Age Publishers, 223-244.  

Boshier, R.W. (2009) Contribution to “acclaim for this book.” Hill, R.J. & Grace, A. (Eds.) Adult and higher education in queer contexts: power, politics and pedagogy. Chicago: Discovery Association Publishing House, p. iii.

Boshier, R.W. (2009) Wet and boisterous: the up and down romance of commuting by boat. In Vannini, P. (Ed) The cultures of alternative mobilities: routes less travelled. London: Ashgate, 195-210.

Boshier, R.W. (2010). Preface. In Shak, T.W.H. Lifelong education: consensus in characteristics and practices. Singapore: East Asia Forum for Adult Education, p. vi-vii.

Boshier, R.W. (2011).  Kia kaha (Stay Strong) How New Zealand Maori use adult in the context of higher education. In Jacob, J. and Weidman, J. (Eds.).  Beyond the comparative: advancing theory and its application to practice.  New York: Sense Publishers, Ch. 14, 315-332.

Boshier, R.W. (2011) Better city, better life: Lifelong learning with Canadian characteristics. In Jin Yang & Raul Valdes-Cotera (Eds).  Conceptual evolution and policy developments in lifelong learning. Hamburg: UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning, 77-97 (in English and Chinese).

Boshier, R.W. (2011).  Chinese ageism lives on: grassroots reports on elderly learning in Shaanxi, Jiangxi and Jiangsu. In Boulton-Lewis, G. & Tam, M. (Eds.). Active ageing, active learning: issues and challenges. Dordrecht: Springer, 121-140.

Boshier, R.W. (2012). Lifelong learning as flag of convenience. In Bagnall, R. (Ed.) International handbook of lifelong learning, Part 2. Dordrecht: Springer, 701-720.



Educating Girls in Rural China

Educating Girls in  Rural China is Vancouver-based NGO headed-up by Tien Ching who spent eight years squandering her youth in rural Gansu during China’s Cultural Revolution. Later, as a Vancouver (Canada) – based businesswoman she considered it time to do something about getting impoverished Gansu girls into university. This paper traces the history of Educating Girls in Rural China which involves Chinese and Canadian participants “giving” and  “receiving.” When a girl returns to her village after attending university, it triggers positive and negative outcomes. Person-to-person relations embedded in small-scale NGOs intended to foster a “girl effect” have implications for formal diplomacy.  In a series of papers and book chapters Roger Boshier is documenting the progress of Gansu girls and interrogating the meaning of “giving” and “receiving.”


Sanya and the harsh lessons of the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race

As a consequence of reform-and-opening and desire to play in the global economy, Chinese cities are hosting major sports events. Hence, Shanghai is on the Formula I (car-racing) circuit and Sanya (Hainan) sponsored a boat in the 2011-2012 round-the-world sailing race. In addition, financier Chao Wang Yang organized a “China Team” in the America’s Cup yachting regatta. On December 1,  2009, the State Council in China issued opinions on how to accelerate tourism. In their view the task was to vigorously promote the integrated development of tourism with culture and sports.” Sports, they thought, could be a “platform for cultivating new tourism consumption hot spots”. However, the Sanya boat ran into many difficulties and it is not clear if Hainan Island tourism authorities got the anticipated return on investment. Professional sports sponsorship is not easy and Chinese have much to learn. Roger Boshier has had a long-standing interest in and close association with New Zealand yacht-racing interests and, in the study of Sanya, is working with Qi Chao, a colleague at the Shanghai University of Sport.


University branding in a Youtube era: does your video make people laugh, cheer in run into the desert? 

 Top-ranked universities are keen to retain or improve their place in global rankings and, as part of efforts to produce a distinctive brand, place advertising videos on Youtube (or the local equivalent). Some university branding videos are boring and awful; others are stimulating and have high production values.  So, in the world of university branding and video-sharing, who is doing what to whom? And why?  It is relatively easy to brand running shoes (e.g. Nike), motor cycles (e.g. Harley-Davidson) or luxury cars (e.g. Ferrari).  But how does a videographer capture the complexities of university life? Should a branding video convey emotion, facts or what? Should it involve sober academic analysis?  Or appeal to youth with zany images, jumpcuts and hot music? The purpose of this project is to 1. Identify which top-ranked universities have (or do not have)  videos on Youtube (or sites like it).  2. Use a theory-driven model to critically deconstruct production values and messaging in videos from UCLA (USA), UBC (Canada), Peking University (China) and Europe. 3. Deconstruct videos from well-known universities in North America, Oceania, Asia and Europe.

This project by UBC (the always frivolous and high-energy Universal Branding Company) is a follow-up to a successful session at the 2012 annual conference of the Comparative and International Education Society in Puerto Rico. It is a collaboration between Roger Boshier (Vancouver), Xu Jing (UCLA, Los Angeles) and Ralf St. Clair (McGill University, Montreal)

How Chinese used adult education to trigger revolution and  march toward modernization

Many westerners believe the Chinese Communist revolution depended on ammunition and guns. In the anti-Japanese and the civil war that followed, guns were useful. But not as powerful as adult education. In 1936 when remnants of the Long March arrived in Yan’an,  99% of local residents were illiterate. Without their support there could no revolution. Hence, Mao rapidly developed creative and participatory ways to educate peasants about the need for Communism. The process continued after 1949 when the emphasis switched to building a nation. Even though China is now rapidly acquiring the trappings of modernization there has been no let up in the process of educating adults. Hence, in 1999 Jiang Zemin launched a learning initiative designed to build the `biggest learning society in the world.  Since 1984, Roger Boshier has been travelling in and writing about China. In this book-length study the task is to disentangle the complex threads of Chinese adult education and measure the extent to which other developing (and developed) nations can learn from the always contradictory but fascinating Chinese experience. Unlike much Chinese analysis this book depends on interviews with adult educators and cave-dwelling peasants. This book draws on Boshier`s many articles about China along with fresh material covering recent dramas and developments.

How rural migrants fight prejudice and hukou restrictions in Chinese cities: tales from inside the biggest migration in human history

Prior to China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) it was difficult for rural citizens to head into a city.  During the Cultural Revolution Mao gave young people free railway tickets and the opportunity to travel.  With the 1978 launch of Deng Xiao Ping’s reform and opening it became possible for rural people to seek work in cities. These days up to 50% of residents in places like Shanghai are rural migrants.  Architectural wonders (such as the Beijing Birdsnest  or Shanghai’s Jin Mao Tower) arose because of the hard work of recently arrived – and often exploited – rural migrants. Rural migrants are widely regarded as “country bumpkins” and confront racism and other forms of abuse.  Despite putting in long hours and risking life and limb on dangerous work sites, they are too often bilked out of their wages. Because they do not have a city hukou (residence card) they are denied benefits – such as health-care or schooling –  available to city dwellers.

In 2005 Bejing authorities announced a campaign to build a “harmonious society” and, in recent years, mounted programs designed to ameliorate the suffering of migrants.  Increasingly, migrants are pushing back against the cruelty and corruption of city officials and have found spaces to engage in what could be labelled “community development.”  Enterprising migrants tired of waiting for official help have agitated for a loosening of the hukou system and organised health-care facilities and schools. In this chapter for a book entitled Arrival City  the task is to chronicle the “community development” efforts of rural migrants in Chinese cities.

Many migrants attend classes, read “self help” books or seek the advice of “mentors” from their home district. There are few “mass movements.” But, in back alleys, on riverbanks or amongst shanty-style housing found in most cities, energetic migrants are trying to improve their situation in formal, nonformal and informal settings. Data for this book chapter comes from conversations with migrants trying to build a better life. Many Chinese have vivid memories of the Great Leap famine and, with only grandma and very young children back home minding the farm, there are reasons to worry about where the massive Chinese rural-urban migration is going.

Muru the Ruru: improving the morale of the company

Selwyn Muru is a New Zealand painter, sculptor, singer, musician, film-maker, actor, orator, political activist and outstanding self-educated citizen.  Along with other New Zealand farm-gate intellectuals (such as Peter Jackson, Ed. Hillary, Bill Hamilton, Grant Dalton) Muru excels without the “benefit”   of higher education. Unlike others who excel in one arena, Selwyn has mastered many fields. Hence, whereas Selwyn  was hired to act (as the brother of Kiri te Kanawa) in John OShea`s 1964 feature film Runaway, he ended up getting three credits – actor, sets, music.   But his main task during Runaway was to maintain the morale of the company. As a painter and sculptor, Selwyn is part of the famous Northland “Tovey generation”  who benefitted from the encouragement and unorthodox methodologies of Gordon Tovey.

This book-length analysis of Muru was launched because of Roger Boshier`s friendship with Selwyn and long-standing interest in New Zealand farm-gate(self-educated) intellectuals.  It has now turned into a biography.

“Muru the Ruru” is derived from a Richard Cooper painting of Selwyn done to celebrate Muru`s retirement from the University of Auckland Elam School of Art. On the surface, Cooper’s rendering of Selwyn makes him looks formidable. But, on closer examination, like Selwyn himself, the ruru (owl) has both eyes fixed on possibilities for humour, mischief and art on  the road ahead. It is a charming and accurate tribute to a remarkable New Zealander.