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Michael Osborne

Michael Osborne

Hall of Fame Class of 2022

Michael Osborne, Professor of Adult and Lifelong Learning at the University of Glasgow, is director of the Centre for Research and Development in Adult and Lifelong Learning (CR&DALL) within the College of Social Sciences and co-director of the PASCAL Observatory on Place Management, Social Capital, and Lifelong Learning within the School of Education. He is a visiting professor at RMIT Melbourne, a docent of the University of Tampere, and an external member of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece.

Osborne has made a significant contribution to scholarship, practice, and policymaking in the field of adult and continuing education and lifelong learning, always with research at its core and always in the service of innovation and reform. His scholarship has impacted the development of ground-breaking areas of research in adult learning in the workplace and in learning cities/regions and in mobilizing “big data” to study the field.

His most notable achievements have been as a scholar in developing nationally and internationally renowned research centers and major programs of research associated with them. This included as co-director of the Centre for Research in Lifelong (CRLL) from 1998-2008 at the University of Stirling.  And, CR&DALL, which he has directed since 2008, is now recognized as world leading in research on adult and lifelong learning and generates clear evidence of the contribution that adult education can make in its own right and as a discipline that can effectively address the intractable problems of the world. He has achieved funding for and executed a wide range of high-profile projects. His social engagement, leadership, and active membership in research activities have ensured that the evidence generated has been embedded in practice, professional development, evaluation tools, and policymaking across the world, and his managerial talent has embedded them in the structure and culture of adult learning centers, colleges, universities, and transnational organizations.

He has dedicated his professional life to pursuing the cause of adult learning relentlessly, consistently, and coherently, particularly for disadvantaged groups, and to do this by research and development generating robust evidence and at the same time devising new approaches and tools to drive forward innovative solutions, often against resistance and skepticism. Early in his career he designed and taught new access courses in math and sciences at a time (1980s) when there was enormous resistance from many universities, policymakers, and teachers/practitioners to the idea that adults without the usual qualifications could enter higher education and succeed, particularly in STEM subjects.

Osborne has always demonstrated a commitment to communicating the results of research and development in adult and continuing education that he and others have undertaken to academics, practitioners, and policymakers, regionally, nationally, and internationally. He has written and edited books and refereed articles and reports; spoken at many national and international conferences; promoted research through CR&DALL; contributed consistently to the PASCAL Observatory newsletter on learning cities and regions; edited the Journal of Adult and Continuing Education (JACE), developing it from a low circulation parochial journal to a major outlet for research and scholarship in the field; been consultant, adviser, and research network coordinator to such national and international agencies as UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, ASEM Lifelong Learning Hub, Council of Europe, Universities UK, the Higher Education Academy, and Learndirect Scotland; co-authored the UK’s contribution to CONFINTEA VI and produced core briefing papers for the 2019 and 2021 International Conferences on Learning Cities in Medellin and Yeon-su; worked closely with specialist groups on LLL and regions in a network of research-intensive universities (“Universitas 21").