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 broad field of lifelong learning, adult and higher education. He was formerly Director of the MPhil/PhD programme; Reader and Co-Director of the Centre for International Studies of Diversity and Participation; and Principal Lecturer in the Department of Post-Compulsory Education at CCCU. He was a Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Kent and Principal Research Fellow at the University of East London; and researcher in adult education at the University of Keele.  He has worked at a senior level for the Workers Educational Association, in further education and Local Authority adult education. He has worked for the Open University and as a broadcaster on educational matters.  

Linden has extensive experience of working internationally. He has been Visiting Professor at the University of Milano-Bicocca and the Université de Paris Nanterre and has taught in various countries including Poland, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Slovenia and France. He has examined and supervised PhDs in Australia, Denmark, France, Canada, South Africa and Lithuania, as well as supervising PhD students from Cameroon, Italy and France. He has been Director of the ERASMUS intensive international programme for doctoral students, with a focus on methodology. Summer Schools were held in Lithuania, Turkey, and this summer in Finland. There was participation in the project by universities in Italy, Turkey, Finland and Lithuania as well as the UK. Linden is a cordinator of the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA) Life History and Biography Network and the Interrogating Tansformative Processes in Learning and Education and is a Steward of the International Transformative Learning Conference.  


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

Research and knowledge exchange

Linden’s research and writing cover professional learning, adult learner motivation, the stories learners tell and the history of adult and popular education. He is motivated by concern for people in marginalised communities and uses auto/biographical and narrative research, in a clinical style, to illuminate their experiences. He jointly coordinates the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA) Life History and Biography Network.His latest book, written with Professor Laura Formenti, is Transforming perspectives in lifelong learning and adult education: a dialogue. The book represents a pilgrimage across the landscape of lifelong learning and adult education, meeting many other pilgrims on the way, including Bauman, Freud, Bateson, Dante, Jung and Spielrein. Go to A struggle for dialogue is seen as fundamental to individua and collective flourishing in a fractious world.

Distress in the city: racism, fundamentalism and a democratic education: Linden has been researching 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 also exist, however, in the Lidice shall live campaign and the history of workers education and in current activities of the WEA. The book is published by Trentham.

Researching critical reflection in the professions

This was a collaborative ESRC seminar series. A book is published by Routledge. 

Narrative based career counselling

Linden has collaborated with Professor Hazel Reid, to examine the use of narrative methods in career counselling.  This involved engaging with practitioners in workshops to develop narrative approaches in career guidance, then trialing these in practice, and researching the experience in depth, over time.

Teaching and subject expertise

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

Linden currently teaches in Educaitonal Studies, the BA in Mentoring and on the revised Doctorate in Education programme, and supervises and 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. He has supervised academic colleagues in the Education Faculty and Health and Well-Being, which has led to curriculum developments in nurse education. He has worked closely 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 was recently a Visiting Professor at the University of Milano Bicocca, and the Université de Paris Nanterre. Linden also works as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, and uses what he calls psychosocial perspectives in making sense of learning lives.  

External activities

Linden has edited various books which involve the work of diverse colleagues from many countires. Books like 'Narratives of Continuity and Change', 'Stories that make a difference',  ‘Psychoanalysis and Education: Minding a Gap’ (recently translated into Italian) and ‘Embodied Narratives: Connecting stories, bodies, cultures and ecologies’. He is 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, and he has taken part in many conferences across the world, including in Brazil, Canada, India, South Korea and the USA.

Linden has played a key role for many years in coordinating, with international colleagues, two of the networks of the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA and is an Honorary Life Member of the Standing Conference of University Teachers and Researchers in the Education of Adults (SCUTREA). He is a Steward of the International Transformative Learning Conference.

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

Linden has been an external examiner for EdD and PhD programmes at many UK Universities as well as in Australia, Canada, New Zeland, France and Denmark.

Member, International Scientific Advisory Boad, Institut Sunkhronos, Geneva.

Visiting Professor: Paris Nanterre, Milano Bicocca, University of Llubljana, Slovenia and Roskilde University Centre, the National Pedagogic University of Denmark, the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, University of Southern Denmark; the University of Vaxjo, Sweden, and the University of Seville; the University of Southern Silesia and at the University of Wroclaw, Poland.

Registered psychoanalytic psychotherapist. United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy

Publications and research outputs

Books and articles

West L and Formenti L (2018) Transforming perspectives in lifelong learning and adult education. 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: Rubedo Press. 

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

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.

West L, Fleming, T. and Finnegan, F. (2013) Connecting Bourdieu, Winnicott, and Honneth: understanding the experiences of non-traditional learners through an interdisciplinary lens. Studies in the Education of Adults, 45 (2). 119-134.

Reid, H. and West, L. R. (2011) “Telling tales”: using narrative in career guidance. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 78 (2). 174-183.

West et al (2016) (Eds) Researching critical reflection. London: Routledge

West L and Reid H (2014) Constructing Narratives of Continuity and Change. London: Routledge.

West L, Formenti L and Horsdal M (2014) Embodied Narratives: Connecting Stories, bodies and ecologies.Odense: University Press

West L and Bainbridge A (2012) Psychoanalysis and Education; minding the gap. London: Karnac

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


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