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One Insider's View

History of AERC

The idea of gathering adult education researchers together to meet in a collegial environment where discussion and debate are actively promoted took root in the late 1950s. At that time, the Commission of Professors saw a need to encourage a stronger orientation towards research in the field of adult education. Originally known as the National Seminar on Adult Education Research, this organization coordinated meetings of students, university professionals, and interested practitioners. An informal organization to say the least, it basically ran on the goodwill of its members and sponsoring institutions who provided what support and resources they could.

In the four decades since its inception, this annual meeting of adult education researchers has matured and grown in prominence, albeit under a different name and the auspices of a more formal constitution and set of by-laws. Membership has expanded to include researchers from around the world who have brought fresh and varied theoretical and practical perspectives to the continued dialog taking place at the annual conference.

With its long tradition of advancing knowledge in adult education, the AERC has become one of the largest, most prestigious meetings of adult educators, both locally and internationally. This is not to say, however, that the AERC has evolved into the rigidly structured and formal conferences often seen in other environments. On the contrary, what is unique about the AERC and indeed reminiscent of the AERC's humble beginnings, is the lack of pretentiousness and the emphasis on fostering professional collaboration in a supportive, enlightened environment.

Becoming a member of AERC

Membership in the AERC is quite straightforward; formal requirements are simply attendance at the annual conference. Once at the conference, attendees:

  • can choose from a diverse selection of presentations and symposia

  • are encouraged to join in on the many impromtu discussions and debates

  • attend the annual business meeting

  • are introduced to the winner of the graduate student award

  • can participate in a wide variety of extra-curricular activities


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