Staff Profiles


Professor Linden West

Faculty Director of MPhil and PhD

School: Faculty of Education Postgraduate Programmes

Campus: Canterbury

Tel: 01227 922732

Profile summary

Linden West, FRSA, BA (Keele), M.Clin.Psych. (Kent), M Phil (Open University) and PhD (Kent) is Professor of Education and an author and researcher in the field of lifelong learning, adult and higher education. He was formerly  Reader and Co-Director of the Centre for International Studies of Diversity and Participation; and Principal Lecturer in Post-Compulsory Education. He was Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Kent and Principal Research Fellow at the University of East London; and a researcher in adult education at Keele University.  He was employed at a senior level for the Workers Educational Association, in further education and Local Authority adult education. He worked for the Open University, as an educational broadcaster and is is a celebated author. His book, written with Laura Formenti, Transforming perspectives in lifelong learning and adult education won the prestigous 2019 AAACE Cyril O.Houle prize for 'outstanding literature in adult education'. In 2020 Linden was inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame at the University of Oklahoma. 

Linden has been Visiting Professor at the University of Milano-Bicocca, the Université de Paris Nanterre and Michegan State University. He has supervised doctoral students from Australia, Denmark, France, Canada, South Africa, Lithuania, Cameroon, Italy and France as well as in the UK. He was Director of the ERASMUS intensive international programme on methodology for doctoral students. Linden is a cordinator of the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA) Life History and Biography Network and Transformative Processes in Learning and Education. He is a Steward of the International Transformative Learning Conference. In 2016 he was awarded the prize for outstanding literature in the field. He is an honorary life member of SCUTREA.


Linden is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce.

Research and knowledge exchange

Linden’s scholarship covers professional learning, adult student motivation, family learning and the history of adult and popular education. He has developed an interdisciplinary pscyhosocial framing of lifelong learning and adult education, grounded in auto/biographical narrative enquiry, in a clinical style, and drawing on psychoanalysis, critical theory and mythopoetic perspectives.

He is motivated by concern for marginalised communities. In Distress in the city: racism, fundamentalism and a democratic education, he writes about the rise of racism and fundamentalism in one post-industrial city - Stoke on Trent - where he was born. He has used narrative enquiry among diverse people in the city, which has suffered chronic economic decline, social fragmentation and a crisis of representative politics. The study illuminates the rise of Islamic fundamentalist groups, the BNP and EDL. Resources of hope exist, however, in the Lidice shall live campaign, the history of workers education and in current activities by the WEA. He jointly coordinates the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA) Life History and Biography Network. His prizewinning book, written with Professor Laura Formenti, Transforming perspectives in lifelong learning and adult education: a dialogue, represents a pilgrimage across the landscape of lifelong learning and adult education. The authors meet other pilgrims, including Bauman, Freud, Bateson, Dante, Jung and Spielrein. A struggle for dialogue across difference is seen as fundamental to individual and collective flourishing in a fractious world.

Other recent books include Researching critical reflection in the professions, derived from a collaborative ESRC seminar series.  

Linden has written with Hazel Reid, on using narrative methods in career counselling.  This involved engaging with practitioners in diverse workshops to develop narrative approaches in career guidance, trialing these, in practice, and researching the experience, in depth, over time. He also writes on psychoanalysis and education with Dr Alan Bainbridge.

Teaching and subject expertise

Linden taught in the Department of Post-Compulsory Education on the BA in Lifelong Learning and Masters courses. He has developed modules on the MA in Career Guidance and Counselling, and taught on Professional Practice in Post-Compulsory Education, and the MA in Early Years. He devised specific modules for the EdD and various MA programmes using in-depth auto/biographical methods. His work for the Erasmus Intensive Programme significantly enhanced the international engagement of cohorts of doctoral students, from across the University. Active networks have continued among students, via Facebook and other social media.

Linden currently teaches in Educaitonal Studies, on the BA in Mentoring and on a revised Doctorate in Education programme. He has supervised many Masters, EdD and PhD students, working on topics such as Education and Working Class Biography, Wisdom and adult learning, Gender, Class and Education, Life Histories and Literacy in marginalised communities; Motivation and Volunteering;choosing careers, auto/biographical perspectives; the concept of judgment in critical incidents in police work etc. His supervisees include academic staff undertaking doctoral study in the Education Faculty and Health and Well-Being. Some of this latter work led to curriculum developments in nurse education. He has worked closely too with the School of Law and Criminal Justice and Social and Applied Sciences in supervising doctoral students on topics such as alcohol abuse and nighttime economies.

Linden has taught Masters and doctoral students in various universities, internationally as well as nationally. He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Milano Bicocca, and the Université de Paris Nanterre as well as at Michegan State. Linden works as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, and uses what he calls psychosocial perspectives, grounded in auto/biographical narrative research, in a clinical style, in making sense of learning lives.  

External activities

Linden is a widely celebrated international scholar. He serves on the scientific boards of a number of international journals, including RELA, CLIOPSY, Journal of Transformative Education, Biografici, and Biography, Culture and Lifelong Learning (Busan, S. Korea). His writing is translated into Portuguese, Spanish, Polish, French, Chinese, Korean and Italian. He has participated iin many conferences across the world, including in Brazil, Canada, India, South Korea and the USA.

In 2019, Linden gave keynotes at an International Summer School in Sarajevo, "Rethinking the Culture of Tolerance" which has run for many years and is attended by academics and doctoral students from all over the world. The theme was European integration thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Professor Tatyana Sekulic, a coordinator, invited Linden because of his book Distress in the city, racism, fundamentalism and a democratic education : ‘I was so interested in your findings about radicalization and recruitment of youngsters in British suburbs, and how the Srebrenica narrative was used and manipulated in the West. Professor Sekulic wrote Linden's contribution ‘...was one of the most appreciated moments for our students, and they expressed so many beautiful words about you….’. Second, there was the International Doctoral School at Lake Como – where he also gave a keynote. The School was supported by the prestigious Fondazione Alessandro Volta, with research students and researchers coming, once more, from all over the world.

Linden has played a key role in coordinating two networks of the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA). He is a Steward of the International Transformative Learning Conference and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce. He is a Member of the International Scientific Advisory Boad, Institut Sunkhronos, Geneva.

As well as being a Visiting Professor at Paris Nanterre, Milano Bicocca, and Michegan State, Linden has worked for the University of Llubljana, Slovenia and Roskilde University Centre, the National Pedagogic University of Denmark, the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, the University of Southern Denmark; University of Vaxjo, Sweden, and the University of Seville; the University of Southern Silesia and at the University of Wroclaw, Poland.

In 2020 Linden was inducted into the Adult and Continuing Educaiton International Hall of Fame, based at the University of Oklahoma.

He is a registered psychoanalytic psychotherapist with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).

Publications and research outputs

Select books and chapters

West, L.(2019) Psychoanalysis , Fundamentalism, Critical Theory and the Unconscious. In Selling Oleson (Ed) the Social Unconscious. Rotterdam: Sense

West, L. (2019) Democratic and intercultural dialogue across universities, communities and movements. In F. Finnegan and B. Grummell (Eds). Power and Possibility: adult education in a diverse and complex world. Rotterdam: Sense.

West, L.R. and Formenti, L.  (2018) Transforming perspectives in lifelong learning and adult education: a dialogue. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

West, L. (2017) Re-Enchanting the academy: Popular Education and the Search for Soul in the Modern Academy. In A.Voss and S.Wilson (Eds) Re-enchanting the Academy. Seattle : Rubedon Press. 67-92.

West L (2016) Distress in the city: racism, fundamentalism and democratic education.London: Trentham

West et al (2016) (Eds) Researching critical reflection, multi-disciplinary perspectives. London: Routledge

West L and Merrill B (2009) Using biographical methods in social research. London: Sage

Journal articles


West, L. and Merrill, B. (2018). A history of biographical research in the United Kingdom. Revista Brasileira de Pesquisa (Auto)Biográfica. 3 (9), pp. 765-780.

West, L. (2017) Resisting the enormous condescension of posterity: Richard Henry Tawney, Raymond Williams and the long struggle for a democratic education. International Journal of Lifelong Education. 36, 1-2, 12, 129-144.

West L and Reid H (2016), Negotiating professional and personal biographies in a liquid world: creating space for reflexive innovation in career counselling. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, DOI: 10.1080/03069885.2016.1145014

West L. (2016) Pedagogies of Love and Hate: self-recognition in Islamist groups and workers’ education in the United Kingdom. Pedagogia Oggi. 1, 16.

West L (2014) Transformative learning and the form that transforms: towards a psychosocial theory of recognition using auto/biographical narrative research. Journal of Transformative Education, 12, 2, 164-179.


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Last edited: 29/01/2019 15:27:00