Vaughan Open Research Forum

A series of talks, workshops and interactive sessions which are open to anyone who is curious and wants to find out more.

Themes for sessions relate to our core teaching topics, arts, humanities, social sciences and counselling, and also discuss adult education and co-operative issues.  The Forums take place on the second Tuesday of the month.

The Venue for the Open Research Forum is the Satta Hashem Hall in the Leicester Adult Education College, 54 Belvoir Street. Tea and cake will be available from 5.45 pm with the session running 6.15- 7.15 pm.


Our next forum:

Tuesday 8 January 2019, 5.45-7.30 pm

Jane Watts, The Restor(y)ing Retirement course – new approaches to learning for  Transitions in Later Life.

The Restor(y)ing Retirement pilot project explores the deliberate use  of narrative as an educational tool in later life learning. The paper  uses a narrative approach to bring alignment between the methodology  of the pilot and its evaluation.  Situated in the theory of  story-telling within research, the paper will examine the individual  stories to extract common themes alongside the individual insights.

In addition to looking at the effectiveness of the approach and  methodology, this paper offers an analysis of some of these personal  stories, to examine the educational needs of people making later life  transitions and how we make sense of such transitions.  The paper  reflects on some of the potential contradictions posed by concepts  such as ‘positive ageing’, learning, identity, agency and an  individual’s responsibility for their wellbeing, which are assumed in  the thinking behind the Transitions in Later Life programme  interventions.

The paper offers some lessons and recommendations for re-thinking  retirement education based on the experience of the pilot project.

About Jane

Jane Watts, PhD, works on a range of projects, research and development across the lifelong learning sector, focusing particularly on areas of inclusion including refugees, migrant workers, older learners, later life learning and employability issues.  Although in theory ‘semi-retired’, she is self employed – carrying out research and development, evaluation and facilitation in the lifelong learning sector.  She is a Senior Research Fellow – Learning and Work Institute (LWI, formerly NIACE) and an Associate of the Centre for Policy on Ageing (CPA). In addition to the LWI and CPA, she is currently carrying out work for the Universities of Warwick and Derby, and for Age UK.

Jane is an active member of ESREA’s working group on Education and Learning of Older Adults and the Association of Education and Ageing.

Book via Eventbrite.


Tuesday 11 December 2018, 5.45-7.30pm

Kajal Nisha Patel

The Representation of South Asian Women: Self-sacrifice and Agency (Choice)

Kajal Nisha Patel is a film maker and photographer who works in both the UK and India. Kajal uses photography and story-telling to explore key social issues.

Get your free tickets here


Tuesday, 13 November 2018, 5.45 pm – 7.15 pm

Dr Alexander Hall ‘The Stream of Life: evolution, Julian Huxley, and humanism on the BBC’

Since the first half of the 20th century humanist and rationalist  organisations have regularly petitioned the BBC to receive more dedicated airtime for their worldviews. Regularly snubbed by mainstream BBC bigwigs, humanist views nonetheless made it to air by  being parachuted into science productions, by figures such as the biologist and science populariser Julian Huxley. In this talk, I will introduce these early connections between scientific shows discussing evolution and what Huxley called his “scientific humanist” worldview. Going beyond the post-war decades, I will explore the legacy of this connection between humanism and scientific programming at the BBC, asking the question whether any of its effects can still be felt in  the blockbuster documentaries produced by the Beeb today?

Alexander Hall is a historian based at the University of Birmingham whose primary area of interest is the intersection between scientific knowledge, the media, and the environment. Dr Hall’s current research  explores how the media have represented evolutionary theory and religion during the second half of the twentieth‐century. Previously, his research explored how scientists have gained positions of expertise in society and used the media to communicate complex theories to the public. He is President of the International Commission for the History of  Meteorology, and Recorder for the History of Science section at the British Science Association.

To book your free ticket click here.


Tuesday, 9 October 2018, 5.45 pm – 7.15 pm

Sir Alan Tuckett, ‘Barking in the wilderness? : Making the case for adult learning’

Bust of Sir Alan Tuckett in the Leicester Adult Education College.

“How is it that at a time when there has never been a greater need for adult learning, there is so little public commitment to securing an informed democracy with critically engaged citizens. The onset of the fourth industrial revolution, greater longevity, climate change, and Brexit all pose challenges that cry out for opportunities to understand, adapt to and to shape change. Yet governments continue to be wedded to an exclusive and utilitarian focus on initial education and training. The talk will consider this conundrum and how best we can make the case for adult learning in challenging times.”

To book a free place at this event (to help us know who much tea and cake to provide) use the contact form on the right-hand-side of this page; email contact@vaughan.coop;or book via Eventbrite.