Karen Marilyn Evans (1949 - )

Evans, Karen Marilyn

Short Biography & Significant Contribution

Professor Karen Evans joined the University of London Institute of Education in 2001 as Chair in Education (Lifelong Learning). She was Head of the School of Lifelong Education and International Development between 2001 and 2005, and is currently Co-Director of the HEFCE Centre for Excellence in Work-Based Learning for Education Professionals. She was previously Professor of Post-Compulsory Education at the University of Surrey and Director of the Postgraduate Centre for the Development of Professional and Adult Learning. Karen Evans is a member of the Executive Committee of BAICE, the British Association for International and Comparative Education. She is joint Editor of COMPARE, the international journal of comparative education. Other editorial board memberships include the British Journal of Educational Studies, and the Journal of World Studies in Education as well as Springer international book series on Lifelong Learning and Vocational Education and Training.

Karen Evans' main fields of comparative and international research are learning in life and work transitions, and adult learning in, for and through the workplace. She has directed and co-directed 15 major studies of learning and the world of work in Britain and internationally, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, charitable institutions (including the Leverhulme Trust, the Anglo-German Foundation) the European Commission and a range of government agencies. She was Principal Investigator for the ESRC Youth Citizenship and Social Change major award on Agency in Young Adult Transition in England and the new Germany, graded outstanding in end of award evaluation and building on a series of Anglo-German research awards from 1988; she was co-director and a project leader in the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC-TLRP) Research Network 'Improving Incentives to Learning in the Workplace', also graded outstanding in end of award review. She is currently jointly leading the ESRC-TLRP major award on Adult Literacy and Workplace Learning, involving international links with UNESCO, Harvard and Portland Universities and the University of Ottawa. Internationally, she has conducted collaborative research with European partners through the EU socio-economic research framework programmes, currently collaborates with the University of Ottawa in SSHRC-funded research on adult and work-related learning, and with Aarhus University, Denmark on innovation and workplace learning. She is co-applicant, founding member and research leader of the research strand on Learning and Life chances within the newly established Economic and Social Research Council Research Centre LLAKES (Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies) directed by Professor Andy Green.

Karen Evans' recent international consultancies include commissions from OECD, the British Council and the Soros Foundation as well as national governments, most recently advice to the New Zealand Government on adult literacy and workplace learning strategies. Advisory roles have included membership of the International Advisory Board for The Learning Lab Denmark and currently for the Swedish VINN HELIX centre for excellence and innovation on work and learning. In 2004, she was appointed Special Adviser to the parliamentary (House of Lords) Select Committee Inquiry into the new generation of EU Lifelong Learning Programmes. She has held visiting appointments/fellowships at the Universities of Melbourne, Ottawa and the Commonwealth of Learning, Vancouver. Her publications include ten books and more than 60 articles in refereed journals. She guest edited, with Professor Edmund King, the Comparative Education special issue on The Education of Mature Adults and delivered the Carfax memorial lecture in honour of Prof Edmund King at the Oxford Conference. Her international keynote lectures include CESE and IVET conferences and she is well known as a speaker at international events and symposia in her research field, including the 2008 invited expert International Symposium on Work and Learning at the University of Ottawa.

Educational Background

BSc (1971) Mathematics w. Philosophy and Economics, University of Bristol

PhD (1982) Human Sciences. Doctoral thesis on the educational participation of young industrial workers., University of Surrey

Professional Background

Administrative Officer (Education) RNIB, London (1971-73).

Various tutor posts in Further and Adult Education (1973-77).

Staff Tutor, University of Surrey (1977-82).

Lecturer and Academic Co-ordinator, Division of Post-Compulsory Education, University of Surrey (1982-89).

Senior Lecturer and Director: Post-16 Education Research Centre, University of Surrey (1989-95).

Professor of Post-Compulsory Education and Director, Postgraduate Centre for Professional and Adult Education, University of Surrey. (1995-2000).

Chair in Education (Lifelong Learning) University of London, Institute of Education (2001 - ): Co-Director, Centre for Excellence in Work-based Learning; (2005 -); Head, School of Lifelong Education and International Development (2001-5).

Affiliations (associations, organizations, institutions)

Visiting Fellowship Commonwealth of Learning, Vancouver (1994).

Visiting Professor, University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (1996)

Visiting Scholar at University of Ottawa under Canadian Studies Awards Programmes (1993 - 1999).

Special Adviser to House of Lords Select Committee Inquiry into the EU Integrated Programme on Lifelong Learning (2005 - 2006)

Editor of COMPARE, the international journal of comparative education (2004 - ).

Selected Publications


Evans K (2009 in press) Learning, Work and Social Responsibility: Challenges for Lifelong Learning in a Global Age, Springer, Dordrecht.

Evans, K., Hodkinson, P., Rainbird, L., Unwin, L. (2006) Improving Workplace Learning, Routledge, Abingdon.

Evans, K. and Niemeyer, B. (2004) Reconnection: Countering Social Exclusion through Situated Learning Springer, Dordrecht.

Evans, K. Rudd, P., Behrens, M. Kaluza, J., Woolley, C. (2003) Young People Talking about the Future in Education, Training and Work, National Youth Agency, Leicester.

Evans, K., Hodkinson, P. and Unwin, L. eds (2002) Working to Learn: Transforming Learning in the Workplace, Routledge, Abingdon)

Evans, K., Behrens, M. and Kaluza, J. (2000) Learning and Work in the Risk Society ( Palgrave/MacMillan.

Evans, K. (1998) Shaping Futures: Learning for Competence and Citizenship, Ashgate International, Aldershot.

Evans, K. and Heinz, W. R. (1994) Becoming Adults in England and Germany, Anglo-German Foundation.

Evans K. and Haffenden, I. eds (1991) Education for Young Adults: International Perspectives, Routledge.

Evans, K (2008) Entries on lifelong learning, transitions and skills in the International Encyclopaedia of Education, ed McCulloch et al, Routledge.

Evans, K.,and Waite, E. (2008 in press) Enhancing Skills for Life? Adult Basic Skills and Workplace Learning in Bynner, J. and Reder, S. Tracking Adult Literacy and Numeracy: Findings from Longitudinal Research, Routledge.

Journal Articles

Evans, K. (2007) 'Concepts of Bounded Agency in Education, Work and Personal Lives of Young Adults', International Journal of Psychology (interdisciplinary issue)', 42 (2) , 1-9.

Evans K (2006) 'Achieving Equity Through 'Gender Autonomy': Challenges for VET Policy and Practice, Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 58 (4) 393-408.

Evans, K., Kersh, N. and Kontiainen, S. (2004) " Recognition of Tacit Skills: Sustaining Learning Outcomes in Adult Learning and Work Re-Entry," International Journal of Training and Development, 8 (1): 54-72.

Evans, K. (2002) "Taking Control of their Lives? Agency in young adult transitions in England and Germany" Journal of Youth Studies, 5 (3): 245-69.


Created: 9/23/2008

Updated: 9/23/2008

Contributed By: Andy Green, University of London Institute of Education