Kenneth Dean Benne

Kenneth Dean Benne

Hall of Fame Class of 2004

Kenneth Dean Benne (1908-1992), through half a century of work, advanced adult education as an innovator, associational leader, journalist, philosopher, teacher and writer. Dr. Benne received a B.S. from Kansas State University in 1930, an M.A. in educational philosophy from the University of Michigan in 1936, and a Ph.D. in educational philosophy from Columbia University in 1941. His professorships from 1941 through 1973 at the University of Illinois, Columbia University, and Boston University influenced countless students, including many of the leading scholars and teachers in the philosophy of education. 

Benne was president of the Philosophy of Education society, as well as a founding member, and was a recipient of the Kilpatrick Award for distinguished contributions to philosophy of education.

Dr. Benne was president of the Adult Education Association from 1955 through 1956. During the 1950's, Benne was instrumental in creating the Adult Leadership magazine, serving as assistant editor. Benne wrote extensively on the philosophy of adult education, of which his major works are Education for Tragedy and The Task of Post-Contemporary Education. He will be remembered as one of the most articulate philosophical interpreters of the nature and meaning of adult education.

Benne is best known as a co-inventor of the laboratory method of learning and change and as a cofounder of the National Training Laboratory for Group Development and its summer training program in Bethel, Maine. He was also a co-founder of the International Association of Applied Social Scientists in 1971, and he wrote extensively about the laboratory method and change theory, co-editing T Group Theory and Laboratory Training, The Laboratory Method of Changing and Learning, and The Planning of Change. Through all of his work and writings Benne expressed a spirited character and ardent commitment to social transformation through the re-socialization and re-education of adults in their human relationships.

"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."

-Henry Brooks Adams