Holst is working with a group of scholars on an issue of New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education (NDACE), the “flagship journal in the U.S. field of adult education bridging scholarship and practice.” The issue Holst and colleagues are editing, “Lifelong Learning and Adult Education in Latin American Social Movements,” which will be published in fall 2021, will be the first issue of a U.S.-based adult education journal consisting of all Latin American authors. The issue features 11 articles written by 20 Latin American adult education scholars and practitioners from nine countries. The articles address issues such as the relationship between social movements and adult education in feminist activism, labor unions, anti-racist organizing, student movements, alternative nonformal schooling, popular education and incarcerated populations.
According to Holst, the idea for the special issue of NDACE emerged out of a recently signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Penn State’s Lifelong Learning and Adult Education program and the master’s program in adult and youth education at the University of Playa Ancha in Valparaíso, Chile.
Holst’s collaborators on the NDACE issue are Kamil Gerónimo-López, a doctoral student in Penn State’s Lifelong Learning and Adult Education program; María Alicia Rueda, an independent researcher and adult educator who lives in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania; Gabriel Alejandro Ramos Concha, professor of adult education at the University of Playa Ancha; and Violeta Acuña-Collado, vice president for academic affairs and professor of adult education at the University of Playa Ancha.
Adult education is a practice in which adults engage in systematic and sustained self-educating activities in order to gain new forms of knowledge, skills, attitudes or values. In the United States, Holst said, adult education encompasses areas such as continuing education, English as a second language, family literacy, prison education and workplace training. Adult education can also take place in volunteer organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), churches and social change organizations.
Social movement learning (SML), a rapidly growing area of interest, refers to both the learning that takes place within social movements and learning about or from social movements.
“As we consider the global phenomenon of the era of social movements and SML in which we live, we ignore at our peril the fact that one of the world’s richest regions in terms of innovative and profoundly transformative social movements is Latin America,” the researchers stated in their proposal for the journal issue. “North American adult educators can benefit significantly by careful consideration of the practical lessons that can be drawn from a dialogue with our counterparts in Latin America.”
A unique aspect of the journal issue, said Gerónimo-López, is providing a glimpse to English speakers of the experiences of people involved in social movements in Latin America.
“To talk about feminism and gender perspectives, from the perspective of feminists in Colombia — we have articles and research done around that but from the voice of a Latin American woman, that was something new to tap into,” she said.
Another area of emphasis for the journal edition, said Rueda, is the editors’ call for authors that have not previously had their work published in English.
“We thought we should open up the door for new scholars in Latin America that produce (material) in Spanish that we should become aware of here in the U.S.,” she said.
In fact, the researchers said, they made a concerted effort to include authors from the widest variety of backgrounds possible.
“Being purposeful in identifying potential contributors, we have carefully considered gender, ethnic and racial identity, as well as social movement diversity in proposing potential authors,” they wrote in their proposal. “We have also made an effort to include well-known, established adult educators, along with representatives of younger generations of emerging scholars and practitioners.”
The process of translation from Spanish/Portuguese into English, Holst said, adds nuance and depth into the content of the articles.
“Do we have equivalent concepts in English? Not easily translatable concepts also speak to different ways of thinking about education," said Holst.
The researchers said they are hopeful about the potential for future collaborations between Penn State and the University of Playa Ancha beyond the journal edition. Rueda said that Playa Ancha faculty are very interested in having Penn State professors teach classes as visiting faculty and would be willing to come to University Park as well. Gerónimo-López said she envisions that dialogue between doctoral students in the two universities could be the starting point of a mutually beneficial relationship. According to Holst, there are opportunities to build linkages between educational initiatives in Latin America and social movements in the U.S.
“This journal has the potential to spark some potential future collaborations on the various themes that are covered,” he said.