Is There A Future for Research in University Continuing Education?
University-based Continuing Education units have become primarily focused on market driven programs at a time when market demand for continuing education has attracted a great deal of competition in that field. As a consequence, much of the purpose for having CE as a specialized function within universities has been eroded. A robust research program that focussed on the way in which learning occurs within organizational contexts is suggested as an emerging area of opportunity and need. This would, in turn, have the potential to create a renewed sense of purpose for CE and strengthen universities' efforts to contribute to economic and community development.
Doing such research well would involve careful attention to the sometimes conflicting interests of individuals and the organizations which structure much of their lives. It would tend to build on the strengths of continuing educators, their experience with individual learners and inter-organizational partnerships and their know-how based on working within a "knowledge intensive" environment. At the same time it would address a major area of concern for almost all organizations, including businesses, government agencies and non-profits. Some specific starting points for such research are suggested.