Sharon Clancy is Assistant Professor in Educational Leadership and Management. From 2016 to 2019 she was Senior Research Fellow in adult education/lifelong learning on the ENLIVEN project at the University of Nottingham. She completed her PhD in 2017, examining a historic adult residential college in its political and societal context. Her writing focuses on education, class and culture, alongside cognitive and social justice issues. A voluntary sector leader before entering academia, Sharon was CEO of Mansfield Council for Voluntary Services fro 2000 to 2007. She is currently Chair of the Raymond Williams Foundation and a trustee of ARVAC (Association for Research in the Voluntary and Community sector). She was Head of Community Partnerships at the University of Nottingham (2007-13), acting as the university's strategic lead on public and community engagement with research. She is also a commissioner for the Centenary Commission, Communications Officer for SCUTREA and Co-editor of the Studies in the Education of Adults journal.
Sharon Clancy convenes, with Iain Jones, the Research Circle on Fostering Democracy, Debate and Dialogue which emerged from the Centenary Commission on Adult Education. We have led a series of nine international events from 2021 to 2023 sharing research and practice in the areas of education inequality, social justice and global citizenship and attracting eminent speakers such as Professor Sir Michael Marmot.
Sharon also leads the Honorary Associates Network in Post 16, Lifelong Learning and Adult Education, which comprises national/international academics, researchers and practitioners who have an honorary relationship with the University of Nottingham in this field of interest. She is also a long-standing member of the Adult Education 100 Committee, the School of Education-led steering group set up to lead the work of the Centenary Commission in Adult Education.
Her writing focuses on adult education, class, culture and social justice issues and she has a particular focus on historical adult education through a historiographic lens.
Educational Leadership and Management
- Leading Learning
- Practice Based Inquiry
- Issues in Educational Leadership
Sharon is Co-Investigator for the ESRC-funded project: A UK-Ireland Investigation into The Statistical Evidence-Base Underpinning Adult Learning and Education Policy-Making, which spans England,… read more
2020. The Response of the United Kingdom (England and Scotland) to Youth Guarantee Pages 393-417 Clancy, Sharon (et al.). In: Europe's Lifelong Learning Markets, Governance and Policy: Using an Instruments Approach 1. Palgrave Macmillan.
2020. Adult and Further Education: the impact of austerity on life chances and well-being. In: Education System Design: Foundations, Policy Options and Consequences Routledge Taylor Francis.. (In Press.)
2020. Book review, Sally Davison and Katharine Harris ‘(eds)’; The Neo-liberal Crisis – a Soundings Collection. Key Words: A Journal of Cultural Materialism. (In Press.)
Sharon is Co-Investigator for the ESRC-funded project: A UK-Ireland Investigation into The Statistical Evidence-Base Underpinning Adult Learning and Education Policy-Making, which spans England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland and involves engagement with bodies representing adult education in all four nations. The project focuses on the impacts of disadvantage as this intersects with adult learning policy making and includes a historical analysis of policy from the early twentieth century to the present.
Sharon's book, 'Sir George Trevelyan, Residential Adult Education and the New Age - 'To Open the Immortal Eye' is published by Palgrave Macmillan. The book is based on Sharon's PhD research and examines the development of British post-Second World War short-term residential adult education, through the lens of the Shropshire Adult Education College (1948-1976) and the tenure of Sir George Trevelyan as its first warden. Trevelyan is acknowledged as the godfather of new-age spiritualism in the UK and is credited with the development of eclectic and esoteric learning opportunities in arts, traditional crafts, culture and ecology. Embodying the spirit of a new national drive for optimism and enterprise in the post-war period, Trevelyan, and his contemporaries at other colleges, took risks and innovated in new pedagogical approaches to adult education, capturing the imagination of hundreds of students, before being stifled by an increasingly restrictive policy framework and financial strictures. The book considers the ideological drivers and tensions behind this unique form of education - its inception, evolution and virtual demise - and seeks to learn from its complex history to inform education in the future.
The Foreword to the new book, by Professor Sir Alan Tuckett, a highly influential and important figure in adult education, includes the following statement: 'What this book does, above all, is to remind us of the immense scope and political, social and cultural value of residential adult education, and of what we have lost. In this age of narrow utilitarian courses focused overwhelmingly on the world of work, the book reminds us of the need to reassert and refresh the role of learning for all, across the range of human interests, irrespective of people's social status and their ability to pay, in an accessible, inclusive, enjoyable and democratic space'. Endorsements include the following comments:
'This is simultaneously a richly concrete historical study of the Shropshire Adult College and its warden, George Trevelyan, and a rigorously theorised analysis of what adult education can and should be like.' Colin Waugh, Editor, Post-16 Educator
'Sharon Clancy provides an enthralling history of one of the principal colleges and of the remarkable man who led it for 24 years. But this is more than well-researched and well-written history. The need for adult education remains and she raises penetrating questions about its place in the 21st century.' - Barrie Trinder FSA, historian and writer on industrial archaeology
'Sharon Clancy has produced a fascinating, thorough and substantial study of an important aspect of the history of post-war education in Britain. The residential college movement transformed the lives of many adult students, and its story is elegantly told in this study of the Shropshire Adult College at Attingham Hall' - Mark Freeman, Professor of Social History and Education, Institute of Education, University College London, UK and Co-editor, History of Education
'This book offers a powerful resource in what Milan Kundera called the perpetual struggle of memory against power and forgetting. The memory and feeling of adult residential colleges conjure a world, at its best, of beauty, creativity and democratic community. Eclectic groups of adult learners - after the destruction, barbarism and shattered lives of world wars - could freely imagine and embody humane, spiritual and democratic values for ecological and cultural renewal. This book enables us to dialogue with them in our own troubled journey to transcend the neoliberal dystopia and abuse of planet Earth.' - Linden West, Emeritus Professor of Education, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK.
Sharon was Senior Research Fellow between 2016 and 2019 for the ENLIVEN (Encouraging Lifelong Learning for an Inclusive and Vibrant Europe) Horizon 2020 project. The book resulting from the research project has been published this year - 'Lifelong Learning, Young Adults and the Challenges of Disadvantage in Europe' - for which Sharon was co-editor and a key contributor.
Sharon has been commissioned, along with Dr Iain Jones, to create a Special Interest book (SPIB) based on a special Issue of Studies in the Education of Adults, 'Lived Experience, Lifelong Learning, Community Activism and Social Change' which was published in 2022. The new SPIB will be published by Routledge in May 2024.
She has also been commissioned to develop, co-edit and co-write, with Drs Kevin Orr and Nalita James, an international handbook on adult education, scheduled for publication in spring 2024, by Edward Elgar publishing. Sharon has contributed two chapters in the international handbook, one co-written with Professor Shirley Walters, University of the Western Cape, South Africa, entitled 'Musings on unlearning embodied separation of humans from the more-than-human world' and one co-written with Dr Thomas Murray, previously Higher Education Lead at An Cosán and now Head of Research for AONTAS, Ireland's National Adult Learning Organisation, entitled 'Community, University, and Democracy in Ireland and the UK: A Dialogue'.