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Developing communities: serving ACE through tertiary education

Francesco Sofo (Faculty of Education, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 16 August 2011




The purpose of this paper is to review the focus and practice of Adult and Community Education (ACE) as well as its conceptualization and delivery and to suggest parameters for an approach based on excellence, a balanced scorecard and performance to meet community needs.


The review examines key aspects of the field of ACE and its strategic shaping, especially towards professionalization and a masculine‐oriented approach portrayed through Australian tertiary ACE courses.


A new understanding emerged that sees the practice of ACE in tertiary institutions already leading to the professionalization of work roles such as community educators, developers and counsellors. Through universities, ACE has embraced developments in information and communication technology and new productivity agendas without losing its caring approach. A proposed framework suggests that it is time for ACE to be transformed in the modern era, to become more systematized, to collaborate more deeply with universities and to strengthen its ability to balance a nurturing focus with a stronger masculine strategic approach.


A new ACE game of hitting winners is being played by Australian universities engaged in the professionalization of ACE through their accredited programmes. These tertiary strategies are fusing the feminine aspects of ACE such as social connectedness and caring with the masculine characteristics of performativity, strategic policy agendas, standards and scientific approaches to quality. ACE should be fully reviewed, improved and integrated better with the new higher education performance approach.



Sofo, F. (2011), "Developing communities: serving ACE through tertiary education", Education + Training, Vol. 53 No. 6, pp. 484-498.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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