UIL publishes papers on the futures of lifelong learning

7 July 2021

Lifelong learning is widely recognized as a powerful tool for developing more sustainable societies, economies and living environments. In order to address the challenges of the twenty-first century and shape a sustainable future for all, the concept of lifelong learning must be adopted in its entirety and recognized as a human right.

Following a transdisciplinary consultation which resulted in its report Embracing a Culture of Lifelong Learning, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) has gathered a collection of papers on the futures of lifelong learning.

The collection offers transdisciplinary perspectives on the futures of lifelong learning, covering different research fields such as demography, education, philosophy, public health, neuroscience and sociology. With this approach, the collection acknowledges transdisciplinarity as a crucial principle of future knowledge production and problem solving in an increasingly complex world.

The collection of papers includes (listed in alphabetical order by first author’s surname):

Transdisciplinary perspectives on the futures of lifelong learning
Daniel Baril, Director General of the Institute for Cooperation for Adult Education (ICAE), Canada, and Chair of the Governing Board of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong learning (UIL)
The science of lifelong learning
Alicia M. Goodwill and Annabel Chen Shen-Hsing, The Centre for Research and Development in Learning (CRADLE), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Towards using the potential of lifelong learning for human and planetary sustainability
Walter Leal Filho, European School of Sustainability Science and Research, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Hamburg, Germany
Learn how to learn collectively: Lifelong learning to take care of oneself, others, and the planet
Gaëll Mainguy, Marie-Cécile Naves and François Taddei, Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity, Paris, France
Envisioning lifelong learning for sustainable futures in Southern Africa
Tonic L. Maruatona, Department of Lifelong Learning and Community Development, University of Botswana, Gabarone, Botswana
From the paperback to the ebook: Lifelong learning in the age of the internet
Eduardo Mendieta, Department of Philosophy, Penn State University, Pennsylvania, United States of America
Strategies and challenges in promoting lifelong learning in higher education – the case of China
Sunny X. Niu and Heqing Liu, Research Institute of Higher Education, Fudan University, Shanghai, China
Lifelong learning in ageing societies: Lessons from Europe
Jim Ogg, Ageing Research Unit, French National Pension Fund (Caisse nationale d’assurance vieillesse), Paris, France
(Re)imagining the futures of lifelong learning: Some sociotechnical tensions
Neil Selwyn, Faculty of Education, Digital Education Research Group, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Older adult learning and active ageing: Bridging self-actualisation and emancipation
Abla M. Sibai, Faculty of Health Sciences and University for Seniors, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon, and Hany Hachem, Department of Education, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden


In the spring of 2020, UIL hosted an online consultation forum with international experts from different research fields. Within the framework of UNESCO’s Futures of Education initiative, the aim of the consultation was to foster discussion on lifelong learning and, more specifically, the role it can play in the development of a sustainable future in light of the deep and rapid changes – such as aging, migration, digitalization and labour market transformation –affecting contemporary societies. The insights of this consultation were captured in a report, Embracing a Culture of Lifelong Learning, which presents a compelling vision for lifelong learning and calls on the international community to recognize lifelong learning as a new human right.