HomePioneering Women and Men in European Adult Education (19th and early 20th Centuries)

HomePioneering Women and Men in European Adult Education (19th and early 20th Centuries)

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Published on Monday, January 29, 2018


The intention of this European seminar is to develop a framework for the future biographical research and documentation of significant figures in adult education.


European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA)

Network: History of Adult Education and Training in Europe

European seminar Paris, 4-6 July 2018


The history of adult education has mostly focused on institutions: on their education or training activities, on the challenges these activities were supposed to respond to, or on ideologies in which they were rooted.

In this kind of research, some personalities have been recognized as influential figures for their role as initiators, leaders or inspiring examples. As in other domains of activities, researchers in adult education have more often focused on men rather than women. Although their contribution to the development of adult education in Europe was essential during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when no - or few - governmental adult education policies existed, there are many significant figures who do not feature in the literature.

Given the importance of individual actors in early European adult education, surprisingly little has been written about these people, their biographies, motivations, and practices to promote the education of adults.

The aims of this European seminar are:

  1. To explore biographical trajectories of theorists, initiators, and activists of various forms of adult education, and to analyze what led them to become ‘pioneers’ in adult education. This requires reflection on the meaning of ‘adult education pioneer’. Biographical information concerning the family and social backgrounds, education, career, sources of inspiration, as well as their contacts and networks will provide the basis for understanding their contribution. Furthermore, it is also important to discuss the social and historical context for their social commitment. For this reason, collective dimensions, for example social movements, should not be forgotten although the focus will be on individuals. The pioneers in adult education should also be examined in the national, international, political, social and cultural contexts of the period.
  2. To identify new figures, more particularly women pioneers, who, up to now, have not been recognized to the same extent as men. This may lead to devoting more attention to a wider range of adult education initiatives than has been the case up to now, including paying attention to women’s discourses claiming their rights to adult education and the activities they advocated.
  3. To provide the basis for a European biographical dictionary, listing or documenting not only biographical notes, but also reflecting on different issues by the papers. For example, which kind of significance did level of education, forms of knowing, religious conviction, or political ideology have in the process of becoming an adult education pioneer? As for the variety of their motivations, is it possible to distinguish between the motivations of male and female actors, or male and female way of acting and thinking? Is it possible to make comparisons between different countries or different periods in history? How did the fact that adult education was promoted and initiated by individual actors impact on the nature of these activities? Or did it not?

The intention of this European seminar is to develop a framework for the future biographical research and documentation of significant figures in adult education. Therefore, presenters are asked to structure their papers portraying an adult education pioneer in two parts: first part describing the biographical trajectory of this figures, second part analyzing her/his ideas, action, or theorizing on adult education.

The richness of discussion will depend on the variety of the studied pioneer profiles and of the national contexts they belong.

Submission Guidelines

Please send your proposal

by the end of February 2018

to both co-convenors:

  • Kirsi Ahonen kirsi.a.m.ahonen@gmail.com
  • Françoise F. Laot francoise.laot@univ-reims.fr; francoise.f.laot@orange.fr

The length of the abstract should be 400-500 words.

The language of the seminar is English but a few papers in French can be accepted. As there will be no professional translation, the authors of French papers are asked to provide an English summary (at least two pages) and as far as possible some slides in English to enable the communication between all the participants. Moreover, the language skills of participants will be used to facilitate dialogue.

Acceptance of papers will be confirmed by the end of March 2018. The final papers should be submitted by 10 June 2018.


The venue of the seminar is Université Paris Descartes, 45 rue des Saints-Pères, 75006 Paris (Metro: Saint-Germain des Prés).

The partners

  • Cerlis (Centre de recherche sur les liens sociaux)
  • Gehfa (Groupe d'étude - Histoire de la formation des adultes)
  • Cérep (Centre d'études et de recherches sur les emplois et les professionnalisations)


50 euros

Scientific Committee

  • Kirsi Ahonen, Researcher, University of Tempere (Finland), Co-convenor ESREA History network
  • Christiane Etévé, Maitresse de conférences honoraires, Groupe d’étude-Histoire de la formation (Gehfa)
  • Emmanuel de Lescure, Maître de conférences, Cerlis, Université Paris Descartes
  • Françoise F. Laot, Professeure, Cérep, Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Co-convenor ESREA History network ESREA
  • Madeleine Maillebouis, Ingénieur d’étude, Documentaliste, Cnam, Gehfa
  • Rebecca Rogers, Professeure, Cerlis, Université Paris Descartes


  • Université Paris Descartes - 45 rue des Saints-Pères
    Paris, France (75006)


  • Wednesday, February 28, 2018


  • éducation, adulte, femme, pionnier, pionnière, formation


  • Françoise Laot
    courriel : francoise [dot] laot [at] univ-paris8 [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Françoise Laot
    courriel : francoise [dot] laot [at] univ-paris8 [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Pioneering Women and Men in European Adult Education (19th and early 20th Centuries) », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, January 29, 2018, https://doi.org/10.58079/zcg

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