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 master’s program in adult and continuing education and graduated with a 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 dissertation, 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 program planning, professional ethics in adult education, and comparative and international adult education.

From 2008-2011 he served as Associate Dean, External Programs and Learning Technologies (now Professional Development and Community Engagement), from 2011-2014 as Senior Associate Dean, International and Administration, and from 2014-2016 as Senior Associate Dean, International, all in the UBC Faculty of Education.

He currently serves on the Board of the International Society for Comparative Adult Education (ISCAE).

His hobbies include various outdoor pursuits, gardening, 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


Butterwick, S., Elfert, M. & Sork, T. J. (2018). Displacement, dilution and demise:  The history and fate of the Coolie Verner Memorial Reading Room at the University of British Columbia. In B. Käpplinger & M. Elfert (Eds.), Verlassene Orte der Erwachsenenbildung in Deutschland, Abandoned Places of Adult Education in Canada (pp. 145-159). Berlin: Peter Lang. Doi 10.3726/b14378


Boškić, Natasha; Sork, Thomas J.; Irwin, Rita; Nashon, Samson; Nicol, Cynthia; Meyer, Karen & Hu, Sharon. (2018). Using technologies to provide higher education for refugees. In E. Jean-Francois (Ed.), Transnational perspectives on innovation in teaching and learning technologies (pp.285-304). Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill|Sense Publishers. ISBN: 9789004366053/ doi:10.1163/9789004366077_014


Sork, Thomas J. (2016). The place of ethics and the ethics of place in adult and lifelong education. In S. Y. Shah & K. C. Choudhary (Eds.), International dimensions of adult and lifelong learning: James A. Draper & Roby Kidd Memorial Lectures (pp. 3-15). New Delhi: International Institute of Adult and Lifelong Education/Indian Adult Education Association. [Reprint of article appearing in the Indian Journal of Adult Education (2016)].

Käpplinger, Bernd & Sork, Thomas J. (2014). Making program planning more visible: What to do when they don’t know what they don’t know. Professionalisation of adult educators: International and comparative perspectives (pp. 183-200). Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

Sork, Thomas J. (2010). Planning and delivering programs. In C. Kasworm, A. D. Rose, & J. Ross-Gordon (Eds.), Handbook of adult and continuing education (pp. 157-166). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Sork, Thomas J. (2009). Applied ethics in adult and continuing education literature. In L. Burge (Ed.), Negotiating ethical practice in adult education (New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, no. 123) (pp. 19-32). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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. (2016). The place of ethics and the ethics of place in adult and lifelong education. Indian Journal of Adult Education, 77 (3), 5-18.

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.

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.


Courses Taught

ADHE 329: Planning Short Courses, Workshops and Seminars

EDST 510: Research Traditions in Adult Education

EDST 514: Adult Education Program Planning Theory

EDST 525: Program Evaluation in Adult and Community Education

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)