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Allen Tough, PhD

Allen Tough, PhD

Hall of Fame Class of 2006

For 40 years, Allen Tough, PhD, has been globally recognized as a pioneering scholar in adult learning and self-directed learning. His early seminal contributions to the field date back to 1965 and his research has illuminated adults’ successful efforts to learn and change. More than 90 studies in 11 countries have been based on Tough’s work. 

Tough’s inquiry contributed to an expansion of the dialogue on adult learning to include self-directed learning. He was instrumental in catalyzing movement from research focused primarily on who participates in organized adult education to one that embraces the entire range of intentional adult learning. 

Tough has written seven books and numerous articles and papers over the span of his career. He is listed in 11 biographical volumes such as American Men and Women of Science and Who’s Who in the Frontiers of Science and Technology, and his book, The Adult’s Learning Projects, was chosen as one of the ten classical books in adult education. He was named “one of six most often used authors” in a survey of the Adult Education Association in 1978. 

In addition to his studies on the adult learner, Tough is an active researcher in the fields of futures studies and the scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). A Spanish version of his book, Crucial Questions About the Future, was recently published, and a Beijing publisher is producing a Chinese version. He coordinates the World Future Society’s Web forum on future generations and has been recognized as a Fellow of the World Futures Studies Federation. In the SETI field, he founded the Invitation to ETI in 1996, which has now grown to a worldwide network of 100 scientists, futurists, artists and others. He is a member of the International Academy of Astronautics and serves on its international SETI policy committee. 

After 33 years as a faculty member at the University of Toronto, Allen Tough decided to retire early in order to devote his full time and energy to his research interests. He is now professor emeritus at the University of Toronto.