School of Education

Honorary Network in Post 16, Lifelong Learning and Adult Education

Created in March 2022, the Honorary Associates Network in Post 16, Lifelong Learning and Adult Education comprises academics, researchers and practitioners who have an honorary relationship with the University of Nottingham in this field of interest. It has national and international members from a range of countries.

The Network also brings the honorary associates together with colleagues who work in, or have an interest in, this research area within the School of Education. It acts primarily as a means of sharing research, initiatives and ideas for collaboration. The broad interests encompassed by the group include:

  • the civic and civil roles of higher education  
  • educational futures 
  • re-imagining higher education 
  • co-operative higher education 
  • working class education and inequalities 
  • academic freedom 
  • liberal adult education 
  • vocational adult education 
  • educational policy 
  • relationship of adult/lifelong education to schools   

International event

The network is  working towards the development of an international online event in 2023 which will examine global citizenship and adult learning, with a putative title of 'Rethinking global research agendas in adult citizenship'.  

Network convenor

The network is convened by Dr Sharon Clancy. 

Email Sharon


Network members 

Dr Sharon Clancy

Sharon Clancy is Assistant Professor in Educational Leadership at the University of Nottingham, with an emphasis on post-16 and Further Education. Her writing focuses on adult education, class, culture and social justice issues. She convenes, with Iain Jones, the Research Circle on Fostering Democracy, Debate and Dialogue which emerged from the Centenary Commission on Adult Education. Her PhD, completed in 2017, was a case study of a historic short-term adult residential college within its political and societal context. Sharon was Head of Community Engagement at the University of Nottingham between 2007 and 2013. A voluntary sector/public engagement leader before entering academia, she was CEO of Mansfield Council for Voluntary Services between 2000 and 2007. Sharon is currently Chair of the Raymond Williams Foundation and a trustee of the Association for Research in the Voluntary and Community sector (ARVAC). 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. 


Professor John Holford

John Holford is Robert Peers Professor of Adult Education. A sociologist who has spent most of his career in adult education, his research has focussed chiefly on the role of lifelong education in the formation of citizens, communities and social movements. His main current research interests are in adult learning of citizenship, especially in Europe, policy processes for the education of adults, especially in the European Union, and the history of adult education and citizenship in Britain. His earlier work has covered learning in trade unions and social movements, lifelong learning in South East Asia, the history of adult education in the British colonies, and the historical sociology of labour. 

He was joint secretary to the Centenary Commission on Adult Education, and has recently co-curated an exhibition on the University of Nottingham’s contribution to 20th century adult education (“Knowledge is Power: Class, Community and Adult Education”). He was Co-ordinator of the Horizon 2020 research project, Enliven (Encouraging Lifelong Learning for an Inclusive & Vibrant Europe) between 2016-2019. He has been a partner in several previous EU research projects, including LLLight'in'Europe, LLL2010, Includ-Ed, and Etgace (which he also co-ordinated).

He was Editor of the International Journal of Lifelong Education (Routledge) for over two decades, and is a member of the editorial boards of the International Review of Education (UNESCO/Wiley), Adult Education Quarterly (Sage/American Association for Adult and Continuing Education) and the Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education.

He is joint Convenor of the European Society (ESREA) for Network on Policy Studies in Adult Education, an Honorary Professor at the University of Hong Kong, and a member of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Nepal Studies (UK). 


Dr Charlie Davies

Dr Charlie Davis is an Assistant Professor in Higher Education at the University of Nottingham. Charlie gained and MA ICT in Education (2010) and his EdD (2018) at University of Nottingham. Prior to beginning his HE career at the University of Derby in 2009, Charlie spent eight years teaching English to speakers of other languages in England, the Republic of Ireland and Barcelona. He is part of the leadership team of Alliance for Working Class Academics (AWCA), an international collective seeking to support faculty and students from diverse working-class backgrounds in academia. His current Society for Research in Higher Education (SRHE) funded project explores the routes into academia taken by a group of Russell Group academics identifying as being of working-class heritage (WCH). Using critical storytelling methods, the study seeks to generate knowledge challenging a narrow range of pervasive stereotypes representing working-class experiences in academia. This study develops previous work mobilising creative narrative methods as part of co-production approaches aimed at fostering communities of inquiry. Future studies will develop inquiry-engaged narrative pedagogies to address forms of epistemic injustice felt by under-represented social groups, within and outside Higher Education. Working with colleagues in HE and community settings, Charlie aims to situate future work across disciplinary and geographical boundaries as part of education for social justice practices.


Dr Cilla Ross

Dr Cilla Ross is an education activist, teacher, and researcher.  She has worked with the WEA, UK trade unions and at the universities of Sheffield, Leeds, Westminster, and the Working Lives Research Institute. She joined the Co-operative College to explore the possibility of a Co-operative University and stepped down as Principal in 2021.  Cilla is currently co-creating trade union co-ops for the ‘future of work’ and recasting ideas to do with knowledge(s) and co-operatives as sites of radical adult education. Cilla’s new project is to explore everyday democracy, agency and political lived experiences, a collaborative research initiative with Dr Sharon Clancy. Cilla was a Commissioner on the Centenary Commission on Adult Education in 2019 and is an Honorary Professor in Co-operative Education at the University of Nottingham. She is a founder member of 2 co-ops (Red Learning Co-operative and Preston Co-op Education Centre) and recent publications include Noble, M; Ross, C (Eds.) (2020) Reclaiming the University for the Public Good: Experiments and Futures in Co-operative Higher Education London: Palgrave.


Dr Lesley Powell

Dr Lesley Powell is the Research Chair Youth Unemployment, Employability and Empowerment at Nelson Mandela University. She undertook her PhD at the University of Nottingham where she is currently appointed as a member to the University of Nottingham’s UNEVOC Centre and as an Honorary Associate Professor to the Faculty of Education at the University of Nottingham. Her research work has largely focussed on TVET with her theoretical interest being the ways in which TVET can intervene in inequality and poverty and particularly the way(s) in which it can advance the conditions for meaningful and sustainable livelihoods. She has published widely on TVET from human development and social justice perspectives. Her publications include refereed book, book chapters, journal articles, monographs, conference papers and published policy reports. Good: Experiments and Futures in Co-operative Higher Education London: Palgrave.


Gary Mills

Gary Mills is Associate Professor of History Education at the University of Nottingham. After a career teaching in secondary schools, he became an academic and joined the University in 2001. For many years, he led the History PGCE course, and developed an exchange programme for postgraduate history education students with the University of Connecticut. He teaches across a number of MA courses, supervises PhD and EdD students, and is the module leader for the BA course 'History of Education'. Prior to his appointment at Nottingham, Gary was a History Education Tutor at the University of Oxford, and whilst teaching in schools he worked closely with the PGCE course at the University of Cambridge.

Gary's research interests are centred on the teaching of the Holocaust and other genocides. He has held research awards from The British Council to work with history teachers in Rwanda, and is currently a theme leader and Co-Investigator on two AHRC-funded projects exploring the use of Holocaust and Nazi photography in classroom settings. With US colleagues he also holds a Spencer Foundation award researching the use of Virtual Interactive Holocaust Survivor Testimony in museums and classrooms. Recently, with colleagues from the Maximillian University Munich, he has help develop a new network of international scholars - Technology Meets Testimony [TMT] - investigating the future of Holocaust survivor testimonies. Until recently Gary was Chair of the Academic Advisory Board and Education Advisor at The National Holocaust Centre and Museum. He has just become President of HTEN (History Teacher Education Network) and he also co-convenes the Centre for International Education Research at the School of Education. In a former life he co led, with Dr David Marcombe the Centre for Local History and was Editor of the East Midlands Historian – this work sparked a long held interest in adult/continuing education.


Professor Howard Stevenson

Howard Stevenson is Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the School of Education at the University of Nottingham. His research interests include education policy and governance and industrial relations in the education sector.  He has recently conducted several studies analysing social dialogue and industrial relations in the European education sector. His interests in adult education are concerned with understanding the transformative potential of adult education within and beyond formal sites of adult learning. He is the co-editor of Professional Development in Education. He also contributes to the training programmes of many education trade unions, in the UK and in Europe.


Dr Iain Jones

Iain Jones currently teaches with The Open University, on their MA Education, and is an External Research Supervisor with EdD students at University of Wales, Trinity St David. He completed research for the Centenary Commission on Adult Education, at the University of Nottingham, in 2021 and continues to develop the Research Circle on ‘Fostering Community, Democracy and Dialogue’ with Dr Sharon Clancy. His current research focuses on lifelong education, policy and social justice. Iain is a member of the Editorial Board for Studies in the Education of Adults and he is co- editing a special issue of the journal on ‘Lived experience, learning, community activism and social change’ with Dr Sharon Clancy and Dr Kerry Harman, Birkbeck College. He has taught adults in higher education, since 1994, and previously in further education between 1983-93 developing access and return-to-learn provision. These experiences informed Iain’s doctoral research, and EdD thesis (UCL/ Institute of Education, 2017), that provided a critique of dominant narratives of widening participation in higher education.


Marcella Milana

Marcella Milana researches and writes about the politics, policy, and governance of adult education – at local, national, regional, and global levels, and from comparative perspectives. Methodologically she believes both qualitative and quantitative approaches are needed, but she is mostly experienced with qualitative research. Over the years, her research interests and approach have been influenced by the changing nature of education policy (under neoliberalism), and the increasing complexity of education governance and Europeanization processes. She often draws on multiple disciplinary knowledge and collaborates closely with scholars with a background in education, sociology, and political science.


Professor Matthias Pilz

Professor Dr Matthias Pilz is Full Professor of Economics and Business Education at the University of Cologne and Director of the German Research Centre for Comparative Vocational Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.). Prior to becoming an academic, he worked as a teacher at a Business College in Hannover and was an advisor for European Union education projects at the district government of Hannover. He is Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Training and Development and member of the Editorial Management Committee of the Journal of Vocational Education and Training. His research interests are in international comparative research in VET, transitions from education to employment, and teaching and learning.


Melanie Lenehan

Mel Lenehan is currently the Principal and CEO of Fircroft College of Adult Education, one of only two adult residential colleges currently operating in England, and one of the Institutes of Adult Learning (previously Specially Designated Institutions). Previous to this role, she worked in various roles in the WEA (Workers Educational Association) for seventeen years. Mel was a patron of the Centenary Commission on Adult Education in 2019. She is currently studying for a Doctorate in Education with a focus on adult educator’s and their agency in climate and social justice action education. Mel has recently joined the board of Birmingham Friends of the Earth and sits on a variety of FE sector policy groups.  She was a founding member of the #AdultConversations campaign in 2021 and the resulting grass roots Adult Educators Alliance. 


Jonathan Michie

Jonathan Michie is Professor of Innovation & Knowledge Exchange at the University of Oxford where he is a Pro-Vice-Chancellor without portfolio, and an Honorary Norham Fellow and a member of the SKOPE research centre in the Department of Education.  Jonathan is also President of Kellogg College, a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, Managing Editor of the International Review of Applied Economics, and Chair of the Universities Association for Lifelong Learning (UALL).  Jonathan was co-secretary of the Centenary Commission on Adult Education, and an ‘interdisciplinary’ Panel Member for REF2021.  He was awarded an OBE for services to education.


Pepka Boyadjieva

Pepka Boyadjievais Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology at Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Her research interests are in the field of education with an emphasis on higher education, university development, educational inequalities, social justice in education, and lifelong learning. Currently, Boyadjieva leads the project “Dynamics of inequalities in participation in higher and adult education: A comparative social justice perspective” (2020-2023). Among her latest publications is the book Adult Education as Empowerment: Re-imagining Lifelong Learning through the Capability Approach, Recognition Theory and Common Goods Perspective, Palgrave, 2021 (co-authored) and the article (Un)avoidable clash: Higher education at the altar of its missions and rankings. In: Geopolitical Transformations in Higher Education. Imagining, Fabricating and Contesting Innovation, Springer, 2022.


Dr Peter Sainsbury

Dr Peter Sainsbury has taught science/maths in 5 different secondary schools, since 1972.  He has been a member of Leadership Groups since 1976 and was made a Head teacher at age 37. He headed two major comprehensive schools, a "cutting-edge" community college and one of England’s ten largest 11-18 schools.  He has supported many Leadership Groups as consultant and has trained teachers on PGCE. He has been involved extensively with policy-making, collaborative cross-phase groups and senior politicians and is presently writing a text on secondary school curriculum. He is an Honorary Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham.

Professor Stephen Martin

Steve is a passionate advocate for learning for sustainability and has spent over 30 years facilitating and supporting organisations and governments in ways they can contribute towards a more sustainable future. For nearly a decade he was a member of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Further and Higher Education (specialising in agricultural and science education in the East and West Midlands), with national responsibility for Environmental Education. He served as a special advisor to the Secretary of State in the Department of the Environment in drafting the education and training sections of HM Government’s first white paper on the Environment - Our Common Inheritance. He was the founding chair of the Higher Education  Academy’s Sustainability Advisory Group. For five years he served as an education for sustainability policy advisor to the UK’s National Commission for UNESCO. He was formerly Director of Learning at Forum for the Future, the leading Sustainability Charity in the UK. He is a former Trustee of the Worldwide Fund for Nature and an Honorary Fellow of the Society for the Environment and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology. He is Co-Founder and President of the charity Change Agents UK. From 2016 until 2019 he was a member of the UKSSD ‘s Steering Group in the development of a UK wide progress report (called Measuring Up) on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  From 2021 he began to support Nottingham University with its sustainability strategy and in partnership with Matlock Town Council is creating a community led renewable energy programme to support Matlock and the Derbyshire Dales District Council’s Net Zero Climate targets. He is a keen cyclist and walks as often as possible in the Derbyshire Dales.


Richard Hazledine

Richard is an independent evaluation and development professional with a passion to support the sustainability and growth of publicly funded projects across Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise sector (VCSE). Through his business, ConnectMore Solutions, Richard now provides specialist evaluation and business development support to VCSE organisations across the UK.  Recent projects have focussed on thematic areas of employability, financial inclusion and health and wellbeing. All projects are designed to support VCSE organisations to positively influence the design and delivery of publicly funded projects.  Richard is an Honorary Associate Professor with the University of Nottingham. 


Gábor Király

Gábor Királyis a sociologist, professor at Budapest Business School (BBS). In addition, he is currently the scientific director of the Future of Higher Education Research Centre az BBS. His PhD dissertation (2009) was about issues of public participation in science and technology. In recent years, he contributed to several participatory research projects and he was active in fields such as the future of higher education, academic integrity, sustainability, and organizational change. He is an expert in participatory research methods, organisational research, and research methodology.; He has recently finished his habilitation process submitting his thesis on the relationships of participatory research approach and learning. He gave his habilitation presentations on the reconceptualization of the research/teaching nexus from a participatory perspective and on teaching/learning models in relation to the future of higher education. He is also the head of the project entitled Future of Business Education (2018-2023) funded by the Hungarian Research Fund.; His recent publications include Vision(s) of the University. Applying Participatory Backcasting to Study the Future of Higher Education (Journal of Future Studies, 2018), and Constructing Future Visions about Higher Education with Participatory Methods (in Theory and Method in Higher Education Research. Volume 2, edited by Jeroen Huisman and Malcolm Tight, 2016). He has also co-edited (with Zsuzsanna Géring) a special issue on the Futures of Higher Education at Futures (Elsevier), 2019.


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