Chris Duke has provided leadership in the adult continuing education field from the late sixties. He led innovative practices in leading universities and nationally in three countries, creating lighthouse institutions which have set directions for others. In the past decade his work on learning cities and regions has opened up new directions for collaborative applied learning and balanced development.
Duke began his career in adult higher education as a lecturer at UK University of Leeds, bringing action-oriented adult learning to inner city destitute communities. He is now honorary professor at Glasgow Scotland and RMIT University Australia. His impact has been global, disseminated via more than 300 publications in monographs, academic journals, and practice-oriented journals. He edited the International Journal of University Adult Education for 25 years and continues to serve on international editorial boards. He worked for 50 years in universities in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand as a scholar and manager, with shorter stints as a teacher or consultant with universities and higher education systems in Canada, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Southern Africa, the Sudan, Spain andCroatia..
Duke is known as an early innovator and constant champion of contact, comprehension, and partnership between the North (Europe and North America, also Australia) and the Asian-Pacific region. He was a pioneering leader of the Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE), in the early 1970s to mid-80s. Most recently he was responsible for the 2013 international conference, “Cities Learning Together: Local Communities in the Sustainable and Healthy Learning City,” in Hong Kong, attracting many regional and international partners. He shared leadership of the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE), headquartered in Toronto.His ICAE projects include the World Bank-funded Commission on the Reduction of Poverty and the China Program, culminating in the first International Conference in China, a monograph, and China’s entry into the world adult education community.
Duke’s priority has been to promote learning and support it in ways that strengthen and enrich society. He sees the role of supported adult learning as the responsibility of capable fulfilled individuals in healthy societies. He is dedicated to making adult continuing education known and valued outside the professional world and has worked in the UK and Australia to get adult continuing education properly recognized as a field of university scholarship and practice.
He has consistently argued for universities to be responsive, accountable, and fully engaged with their communities locally and regionally. After 27 years in influential positions at the Australian National University and Warwick, he became president of the University of Western Sydney Nepean. Here his visionary and innovative work in the deprived western Sydney region led Nepean out of a life-threatening crisis to national prominence as an engaged wider access university.
Duke’s commitment to professional integrity, equity, and social justice has extended through a lifetime of service. He remains an active life member of ASPBAE and was awarded an honorary doctorate by Keimyung University in Korea for his work in adult and higher education.
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