At an ACAL conference a distguished person in the field is asked to give an address in honour of Arch Nelson, a pioneer in adult education.

Dr Bob Boughton has been announced as the presenter of the 2019 Arch Nelson Address.

Dr Bob Boughton, Arch Nelson Address

The Conference organisers are delighted to announce that the Arch Nelson Address will be given by Dr Bob Boughton, Associate Professor, Contextual Studies in Education – School of Education; Faculty of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences and Education at the University of New England.


Dr Bob Boughton, Associate Professor, University of New England

I grew up in Sydney and completed an undergraduate honours degree in government at Sydney University in 1975.

For the next twenty years, I worked as a development worker and adult educator in Aboriginal communities, returning to postgraduate academic study in the mid 1990s. I received my PhD in May 1998. I then held contract research positions with the CRC for Aboriginal Health, until January 2002, when I obtained my first permanent academic appointment, to UNE. In January 2009, I was promoted to Associate Professor.

My research focuses on four inter-related areas: Aboriginal adult education; the role of education as a determinant of health in Aboriginal communities; the history and theory of radical adult education (more often called ‘popular education’); and the development of adult education in Timor-Leste. Each is a cognate area within the broader field of adult education and development, which examines adult education’s role in the development of newly-independent countries of the South, and marginalised and disadvantaged communities of the North.

In both my Timor-Leste and Aboriginal work, I have devoted significant time to local capacity-building, as part of fulfilling the ethical obligations of benefit-sharing when working with disadvantaged communities. This work also helps to maintain my direct links as an adult education academic to my professional field, providing many of the experiences on which I draw in my theoretical and research work.

I first met Bob when he supervised my Masters at UNE in the 1990s. Bob opened my eyes to literacy as a social movement, Freire and the power of education in changing lives on a mass scale. He allowed me to become someone who sought the ‘big picture’. Later I followed his progress as he brought literacy to the masses in Timor  Leste. More recently I was inspired by meeting graduates of the Literacy For Life campaign that Bob has shared with remote Aboriginal communities. I was so impressed by the changes to their lives that the participants described that it started my own journey back into teaching from the management space I had wandered into. 

Jo Medlin, ACAL Co-President

ACAL Conference

'Critical re-imagining: adult literacy and numeracy practices for sustainable development'

4-5 October • 3 October Preconference

University of Technology Sydney