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Message from the CEO, Centre for Continuing Education

Professor Ann BrewerWhy enrol in a CCE course? It is a well-known fact that adult education is an important factor of economic, social and cultural development in all modern societies. This is because it can lead to change and more importantly, our ability to adjust to a changing way of life as we grow older. Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (University of Chicago Press, 1996), a key book for me, demonstrated that the impetus for significant change most often comes from outside an established field – our comfort zone. So to help forecast or make change in your own life, or to keep pace in your own line of work, you need to pay attention to areas of knowledge other than your own.

At the least, it will get you to ask new questions. At best, you’ll come across new approaches to your work and life that will enhance your knowledge and approach to learning. Changes in the workplace and education are shaping a hopeful and exciting path for all wanting to increase their skill and expertise. All of us have to grapple with the complex issues that herald change in our world, such as the war in Iraq, the refugee debate, changes in the environment, nanotechnology and genetic engineering. Our courses engage with these issues and assist you to come to grips with the range of thinking skills needed to develop, argue, identify and critique your own position and values. Our courses provide a different way of viewing the world, taking you just far enough out of your comfort zone to yield fresh insights and maximise the learning experience.

Media commentators, financial specialists and politicians are beginning to concede that economic indicators are starting to pick up; for example at home falling interest rates have boosted the housing and construction sector. Although it appears that the global policy reaction is beginning to redress the crisis, we are far from ‘out of the woods’ as yet. All of this gives us some hope that the economy is strengthening.

Education is an important investment often overlooked during challenging economic times and this may be short-sighted. The strength of any economy rests on its service industries, including education, as well as transportation, trade and construction, entertainment and health services. After all, Jennings Wagoner in his book, Jefferson and Education, reminds us of Jefferson’s regard for the importance of education as “ ... the first defence of the nation” (Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 2004).

Education acts like a canary in the coal mine. The aim of formal education is to produce citizens who conform to society’s notion of the contemporary development of the individual, which includes a sense of responsibility for the world they will inherit, their awareness of social concerns and moral issues, their capacity for leadership and their sensitivity to the needs of others. When we see social and moral breakdown in our communities, it is often linked to education – or the lack of it.

Undoubtedly there is a good economic life for those who upgrade their knowledge, skills, have university degrees and have access to careers and employment immediately after graduation. Nonetheless, their future lies in roles where they will receive specific training and have opportunities for continuing education.

Knowing that you are investing your time and money in an institution such as CCE with over 100 years experience in educating our community is why many people continue to come to our courses and engage with our experts.

PROFESSOR ANN M BREWER | Chief Executive Officer
Centre for Continuing Education and SydneyLearning
THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY