Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Adult, Career, and Higher Education

Major Professor

Waynne B. James, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Robert A. Dedrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Arthur S. Shapiro, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William H. Young, Ed.D.


African American Professors, Adult Educators, Minority


The purpose of this study was to provide historical and philosophical information regarding the field of Adult Education from the perspective of 15 African Americans. This studys design utilized the findings from African-American Adult Educators (A-AAE) to add to the depth and breadth of information about Adult Education by engaging participants in reflective dialogue regarding the field and their experiences.

This qualitative design used semi-structured interviews to obtain information about the relationships among and influences of major professors and dissertation committees. The study included influences, direct and indirect, as well as influential authors, books, and publications. Adult Education was analyzed by examining the ideological nature and function of African-American modes of thought about the field. Discussion included divergence from ideologies and values of major professors by the A-AAE and the basis for that divergence.

Themes emerged from discussions of the accomplishments and disappointments of each participant. Individuals spoke freely about changes and trends in adult education during their careers. Most found influences in communities of their origin, rather than in the academic communities of major professors or dissertation committees. The majority modestly discussed their accomplishments, regretting not having published more. A few discussed global views in the future tense, while most discussed application of Adult Education theory in the present. Without exception, A-AAE spoke both of changes towards diversity and of the long way the field has to go in this direction. Many felt being marginalized provided a different perspective.

Major changes included decreased numbers of graduate programs presenting fewer job opportunities and a shift from a male to a female predominated professorate. All valued national organizations, but most felt that they must increase visibility to meet the field’s ever-growing needs in the global political arena.

The newest professors must be activists of social change through politics and scholarly research from the platform of the Adult Education professorate. African-American professors are dealing with issues of discrimination in the field of Adult Education by replacing the gatekeepers, and developing more collaborative research, by providing opportunities for people of color to participate in scholarly activities.