Neugarten Lecture Features Tom Schuller on October 5

Tom Schuller
“Learning across the Life Span: New Century, New Challenges” will be the topic when the Human Development and Social Policy program presents the Bernice Neugarten Memorial Lecture at 5 p.m. on October 5 in Annenberg Hall. The featured speaker will be Tom Schuller, author of 15 books and director of Longview, a London think tank promoting life course research.

Schuller asserts that the reality of having an aging population affects all age groups and raises important questions for education. He says, “We need a new set of lenses to see this more sharply, to understand what it means for different ages and stages of life -- and to work out what we should do about it.”

Related to education, Schuller seeks to answer pointed questions to spur new thinking: “Do we have the tools to think creatively about how learning opportunities ought to be distributed across the life course? And do we understand enough about how individuals’ learning needs change over time?”

Change in employment patterns, such as young people delaying jobs and extending the transition into adulthood, is another trend that demands new thinking, according to Schuller. “What should the educational response be?” he queries. In addition, as people delay retirement, they may need training. “They need access to learning for the different roles they play, as citizens as well as workers,” he says. Finally, he wants to consider what educational provisions should be designed for people age 75 and older.

Schuller is an academic and policy researcher with international experience across a wide range of educational and social issues. From 2008-10 he directed the independent Inquiry into the Future for Lifelong Learning, sponsored by the United Kingdom's National Institute of Adult and Continuing Education, and co-authored the Inquiry's main report, "Learning Through Life." From 2003-08 he was head of the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Paris-based international think tank, where he was responsible for the analysis of educational policy development in 30 member countries, including the United States.

Prior to that he was dean of the faculty of continuing education and professor of lifelong learning at Birkbeck, University of London (the UK's specialist provider of part-time higher education) and a co-director of the Research Centre on the Wider Benefits of Learning. He is a graduate of the Universities of Oxford and London and holds a doctor of philosophy degree from the University of Bremen. He has authored 15 books on a range of topics.

Schuller says, “Rethinking ‘age’ -- what it means to us personally and in policy terms -- is a major challenge. It is one that Bernice Neugarten, in whose memory I am honored to be giving a lecture at Northwestern University, was very early to recognize. She was ahead of her time.”

The Neugarten Lecture series is presented in honor of the late Bernice L. Neugarten, a pioneer in human development and aging, and is funded through memorial gifts by friends. Neugarten founded the interdisciplinary Human Development and Social Policy doctoral program in 1981. The free lecture is open to the public; reservations are required and may be made by calling 847/467-2073 or e-mailing kelly-clarke@northwestern.edu.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 9/23/10