The Researching Work & Learning International (RWL) Conference Series is the longest continuously running international research conference series serving the field of workplace learning in the world. It was initiated in 1999 by researchers at the University of Leeds (UK). As of 2015 it will have visited nine countries in four continents.

The conference series is organized through the work of the RWL International Advisory Committee. This committee is composed of leading international scholars in the diverse field of workplace learning. This website ( is the standing organisational website of this committee. The RWL9 conference will be hosted in Singapore on 9-11 December 2015. For a view of the programme and for regular updates, visit  the local organising committee’s own website:

Institute for Adult Learning, Singapore,

In December 2017, the RWL conference will be coming to South Africa! Why not consider presenting your work of the next two years, at this event?

Transitions, Transformations and Transgressions in Work and Learning & Work and Learning Research

The unifying theme for RWL10 is Transitions, Transformations and Transgressions in Work and Learning. The conference theme invites presenters to explore the intersectional interest of how changes in the socio-economic, socio-material, and socio-ecological world shape transitions, transformations and transgressions in work and learning practices and experiences of individuals, groups, sectors and organisations, and how this shapes and influences work and learning research in contemporary times.

Transitions: In researching work and learning, transitions may refer to individuals and groups transitioning between different levels of education and learning systems, or between learning and work, or in the transitions that occur between different types of work, or within the changing nature of work itself.  The conference also invites researchers to reflect on how such transitions, and associated research, are situated in transitioning communities and societies (i.e. towards more socially just, egalitarian, democratic, healthy and /or sustainable societies). Interesting shifts in this landscape include transitions to flexible work and lifelong learning and to a more mobile and interconnected world. In Africa and around the world we are grappling with transitions between mainstream, second and third economies. There are also moves to transition local and national economies and societies to become clean, lean and ‘green’: more ecologically sustainable in the face of climate change and other ecological risks. We are particularly interested in contributions that explore implications of these and other transitions for work and learning, and what this means for work and learning research.

Transformation has also been a strong theme in work and learning research. Research on transformation explores transformative learning, transformation of experiences or identities, or the transformations needed in activities, institutions and structures to address psychological, social, economic, institutional or systemic transformation goals. The conference theme invites further exploration of these transformations. Of particular interest is broadening our focus on transformations in the economy, to include the important but often neglected relationships between economy and society, and between economy, society and environment, that characterize the often implicit ontology of work and learning. We ask contributors to reflexively review their research to consider if and how transformation in local contexts and institutions is related to movements towards a more equitable, ecologically sustainable and economically just world order, and what the implications for transformation-oriented research may be.

Transgression is also a theme in work and learning research. It features in research on transgressing power, race or gender ‘norms’ and relations in traditional institutional settings, or transgressing the ‘norms’ of production to introduce new forms of work such as shared economic practices, co-operatives or other forms of communal economies. Work and learning research has also sought to transgress the norms of traditional education and training delivery modes via e-learning, communities of practice or other forms of expansive social learning that constitute new, radically different forms of learning-led praxis in work and learning. The work and learning research community in global North and in the global South have also started to explore the transgression of dominant Western Cartesian separations of the social and the material, or the Culture-Nature divide, bringing new forms of relationality into focus. In postcolonial and de-colonising contexts, active contemporary transgressions are found in the formation of eco-democracies and eco-rationalities and decolonization practices that have profound implications for the reworking of normalized Western concepts of materiality, well-being, work and learning. Here we recognize colonization not only in race-related historical forms, but also in contemporary material consumptive and market-driven forms. In this conference we invite researchers to engage this theme reflexively from various geo-historical epistemologies and ontologies in seeking out a wider planetary engagement with collective well-being, social justice and ecological sustainability.

Research methodologies and approaches have also seen transformations and transgressions as these relate to work and learning. In this conference we invite researchers to reflexively review their research methodologies from the perspective of transitions, transformations and / or transgressions. We invite presentations on research methodologies and approaches that are self-consciously oriented towards the conference theme, whilst also seeking a critique of these approaches and their assumptions from philosophical and praxiological vantage points.

While contributions outside these broad themes will still be considered for the programme, the conference will centre the exchange of ideas around the following questions:

  1. What transitions, transformations or transgressions are emerging in work and learning, and work and learning research, as societies confront the vagaries of economic decline, lasting and deepening inequalities, ecological risks like climate change, and social insecurity at local and global scales?
  2. How are wider social transitions, transformations and transgressions shaping work and learning, and what are the implications for research?
  3. What relationship exists between micro-level work and learning research contexts and approaches, and wider patterns of global change and sustainable development?
  4. How to various transitions, transformations and transgressions influene the organisation of work; professional learning ; and the identity and agency of professionals or identity and pedagogical practices in changing work?
  5. What are the implications of various transitions, transformations and transgression potentials for worker agency, and thus also for transformative forms of workplace learning?
  6. What are the implications of various transitions, transformations and transgressions for broader work practices such as human resources development practices and systems, new models of career development, and practices such as mentoring and coaching?
  7. Do, and if so how do various transitions, transformations and transgressions shape and influence occupational and skill differentiation, broadly defined in traditional categories of high, intermediate and low skill and/or formal and informal forms of differentiation. Are the boundaries of these categories being challenged and if so how?

We will post more information about the 2017 Researching Work and Learning (RWL10) conference as it becomes available.