Staff Profiles


Professor Linden West

Emeritus Professor

School: Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Social Sciences Faculty Office

Campus: Canterbury Main Campus

Tel: 01227 922732

Profile summary

Dr Linden West is Professor of Education at Canterbury Christ Church University. He is a celebrated author and researcher in the field of lifelong learning, adult and higher education. He is also a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. Most recently he has worked with Palestinian and Israeli Jewish educators on building dialogue and citizenship education across profound collective traumas. Linden worked in continuing education at the University of Kent and as a researcher at the Universities of East London and Keele. And he was employed at a senior level in the WEA, further education and Local Authority adult education. He was Visiting Professor at Paris Nanterre, Milano Bicocca and Michigan State and has jointly coordinated the European Society for Research on the Education of Adultsd (ESREA) Life History and Biography and Transforming Perspectives Networks,over many years. In 2016 he was awarded a prize at the International Transformative Learning Conference, for his major contribution to the theory and practice of transformative learning.  

He is an honorary life member of the Standing Conference of UniversityTeachers and Researchers in the Education of Adults (SCUTREA). His latest co-edited collection is Bainbridge.A, Formenti L, and West, L. (2021) Discourses, dialogue and diversity in Biographical Research: an ecology of life and learning, Brill/Sense. There are chapters on ecological crises and Palestine/Israel. His other books include Beyond Fragments, adults, motivation and higher education, a biographical analysis; Using biographical methods in social research (with Barbara Merrill); and Distress in the City: racism, fundamentalism and a democratic education. Transforming perspectives in lifelong learning and adult education: a dialogue, written with Laura Formenti, won the prestigious 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.

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 psychosocial 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 wrote 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.

Linden has, until recently, co-coordinated 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 extensively 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, trialling these, 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 on the BA in Lifelong Learning and Masters courses. He developed modules on the MA in Career Guidance and Counselling; and Professional Practice in Post-Compulsory Education, and the MA in Early Years. He devised and led modules for the EdD and MA programmes using in-depth auto/biographical methods and an interdisciplinary psychosocial interpretative frame. His work for the EU-financed Erasmus Intensive Programme enhanced the international engagement of doctoral students, across the University. Active networks continue, via Facebook and other social media.

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, the Université de Paris Nanterre and Michigan State. He also works as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, and uses what he calls 'psychosocial' perspectives, grounded in auto/biographical narrative research in a clinical style, in interpreting learning lives.  

Linden 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 and life design, auto/biographical perspectives; Illuminating judgment in critical incidents. His supervisees include academic staff doing doctorates in the Education Faculty and Health and Well-Being. Some of this work led to curriculum developments in educational studies, careers counselling and nurse education. He has worked closely with the School of Law and Criminal Justice and Social and Applied Sciences when supervising doctoral students on topics such as alcohol abuse and night-time economies.

Linden has supervised and examined doctoral theses, home and abroad. In the last few years, this includes doctoral students at the UEA, Oxford Brookes; Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam Universities; the Open University, Liverpool, UCL, York St John, UTS Sydney; Saulai  University, Lithuania; Paris Nanterre.

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 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.

He is a Member of the International Scientific Advisory Board, Institut Sunkhronos, Geneva.

As well as being a Visiting Professor at Paris Nanterre, Milano Bicocca, and Michigan State, Linden has worked for the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia and Roskilde University Centre, the National Pedagogic University of Denmark, the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, the University of Southern Denmark; University of Växjö, 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 Education 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 monographs, edited collections and chapters

West L, Bainbridge A and Formenti L (2021). Discourse, dialogue and diversity in biographical research. Brill/Sense.

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. 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

Selected journal articles

West, L. (2021). Annunciation and Denunciation in Paulo Freire's dialogical popular education. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, Volume 61, Number 3, November, 421-441.

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 steducation. International Journal of Lifelong Education. 36, 1-2, 12, 129-144.

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

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

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: 19/11/2020 13:32:00