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 A ‘gathering’ in honour of Chris Duke:

‘The Chris Duke Study Circle’*
Maria Slowey

In reflecting on the enormous contribution Chris Duke makes to global developments in the field of adult and continuing education, we must address a basic conundrum: is it possible that one individual could achieve so much, and have such a major impact on researchers, practitioners and policy makers across so many parts of the world (not to mention his contribution to horticulture and ornithology)? Or, might an alternative hypothesis be that this could only be achieved if Chris may in fact be an early AI model?


Building on the classic adult education tradition of the study circle, a number of his ‘old mates’ - from England, Ireland, Scotland, Slovenia and Sweden - decided to get together and convene a ‘study circle’ to investigate this issue further.*


As the tributes in this special addition of the PIMA Bulletin make clear, Chris plays a large and unique role in the professional and personal lives of many colleagues. He continues to support and inspire us, as he has done in many ways over decades. He has a wonderful generosity of spirit, helping us to achieve far more than would have been possible without his engagement and encouragement.


Chris is well known for being a gregarious person, with a vibrant - rather mischievous -  sense of humour. So a few of us felt it would be appropriate to organise a virtual gathering of ‘old mates’ - or, in more technical terms, the ‘Chris Duke Study Circle’. We would of course prefer to have done this in-person, with the subject under discussion preferably over a pint in a ‘real’ Irish pub (i.e. a pub in Dublin).


There are dozens of people who would love to contribute to this gathering/study circle. But in order to keep our conversation within a constrained time, the gathering mainly comprises colleagues associated with Chris’ extraordinarily influential time at Warwick University in England.


We hope the video accessible through the link below captures at least some of the impact he has made on the people included in this tribute. Most of us have known Chris since at least the mid the 1980s and several trace their connection back to the 1970s.




















In alphabetical order our ‘CD study circle’ comprises:


Agnieszka Bron, Emerita Professor Stockholm University, Sweden, who has known Chris since the mid-1970s.


John Field, Emeritus Professor, Stirling University Scotland, who worked closely with Chris during his time at Warwick University.


Ana Kranjc, Emeritus Professor, Ljubljana University, Slovenia, and one of Chris’s early collaborators in the wider European and international context.


Tom Schuller, Former Dean, Birkbeck College, University of London, and close colleague of Chris's at Warwick University.


Maria Slowey, Convenor, the Chris Duke Study Circle, Emeritus Professor, Dublin City University, Ireland, who worked with Chris in many capacities over the years in the UK, internationally- including, memorably, Ireland.


Dick Taylor, Emeritus Professorial Fellow, Wolfson College, Cambridge University, who worked closely with Chris on many British agencies and bodies.


Lucia Vazquez Mendoza, Postdoctoral Researcher, Dublin City University, representing the next generation of scholars influenced by Chris’s work.


Our short interventions only scratch the surface, but we hope they capture something of the high esteem and deep affection which we all have for Chris.


* Inevitably (!) Chris has recently published on this exact topic, in collaboration with Heribert Hinzen - his great friend and colleague over five decades. Duke, C. & Hinzen, H. (Eds.). (2020). Voluntary-based study circles and related municipal policies: international best practices. CR&DALL Working Paper. Glasgow University.

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