Darlene Clover

Darlene Clover
Professor and Graduate Advisor
Office: MacLaurin A455

BA (Tor), MES (York), PhD (OISE Tor)

Area of expertise

Leadership Studies

  • Feminist and nonformal adult education
  • Community and cultural activism and leadership
  • Arts-based adult education and research
  • Museums, art galleries, and libraries
  • Citizenship and political participation
  • Environmental adult education

Darlene’s international and national research over the past 10 years has focussed on the women’s political education and learning and the arts as tools of critical adult education and learning, research and community development.  From 2010 to 2014 she undertook an cross-national comparative study of the adult education philosophies and practices of librarians and public art gallery and museum educators in Canada and the United Kingdom. Her current study investigates how formal and non-formal education, training and professional development programmes and activities in Canada and the United Kingdom prepare art gallery and museum adult educators and community practitioners to re-conceptualize and re-contextualize their work to tackle issues of oppression, marginalization, inequity, inequality and injustice both within and beyond their institutions.

Dr Darlene Clover has been focusing on art galleries and museums in Canada and the United Kingdom as important sites of critical pedagogy and social activism.

“I actually came to these institutions quite reluctantly. I had been researching the very critical and creative work of feminist community-based artist educators, who with increasing frequency, would suggest I should speak with someone working in a particular art gallery or museum. But I was interested in energy, social change, dynamic interactions, and women’s political activist arts-based adult education practices not men, motionlessness, mummies and martyrdoms! So it took me some time – about six years I would say – but I finally made an appointment with the woman adult educator at the National Gallery of Canada. She talked to me about her nonformal education work with youth and adults, about how she was using the artworks in the gallery and having them create their own works, to explore the erosion of human rights in Canada since 9/11. I was inspired and have yet, as they say, ‘to exit through the gift shop’.”

Dr Clover realized she was not alone in her stereotypical view of art galleries and museums. She also acknowledges that historically these institutions have a well-deserved reputation for demonstrating traits of elitism, colonialism, racism, sexism, exclusion, and paternalism. But they also provide a plethora of informal individual as well as structured learning activities for diverse groups of adult learners. And as a scholar of adult education and community leadership, this was a space to valuable to miss.

When Dr Clover began to look at the literature on arts and cultural institutions, including some from the 1800s, she began to see their further complexity. There is a constant ebb and flow between maintaining and legitimating existing power relationships and pushing agendas for change; between practices to civilise the populous and real opportunities to raise one’s status; between being a source of entertainment and amusement and a space to intentionally enrich individuals socially, culturally and epistemologically; between self-direct, individual learning and more purposeful group educational processes; and between maintaining neutrality and distance and actually engaging directly with socio-political issues.

It was the latter two that really intrigued her. She has been interviewing adult educators and community practitioners in art galleries and museums about their philosophies of education and learning and also, developing case studies of fascinating educational initiatives aimed directly at social change.

One example is a programme called Biogot Busters. It is process to talk about what bigotry is and the impact of religious intolerance. It is done in schools but also, according the educator at St Mungo Musuem in Scotland, “with interfaith groups coming over from Belfast which was very interesting and quite scary. You are dancing in the fire and the ashes of timeless biases, fears and animosities.”

What these women, and they are almost exclusively women, are doing is nothing less than courageous.

As part of the research, Dr Clover also undertook an evaluation of the Human Library Project hosted by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. The Human Library is a nonformal education process that brings together living ‘Books’ and ‘Readers’ in one-to-one dialogue to begin to bridge differences and challenge stereotypes. While many were surprised this type of activity would be undertaken in a gallery, although it did link with a portraiture exhibition which is all about ‘identity’, there was some very powerful learning. Edith talked to me about seeing a very different side to graffiti after speaking with artist. She moved away from “thinking they [graffiti artists] are a bunch of idiots” to understanding graffiti as a political act – a way of making a political statement.

Is transformation in understandings not what education is for? It is what adult education is for.

Courses taught by Dr. Clover focus on community and cultural leadership, the arts, activism and adult education, women/feminist and leadership, environmental adult education and research methods. They include:

ED-D 538A Community and Adult Learning

ED-D 538B Cultural Leadership & Social Learning throught the Arts 

ED-D 561B Research Methods in Leadership

Recent Journal Articles

Hall, B.L. & Clover, D.E. (2014). Imagine learning: Thoughts from two adult educators. Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 26(2), 108.

Clover, D.E. & Dogus, F. (In Press). In case of emergency, break convention: A case study of a Human Library project in an art gallery. Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education

Clover, D.E. (2013). Educación de personas adultas en los museos públicos: Una exploración del campo. Revista Cuestiones Pedagógicas, 22, 169-180.

Clover, D.E. (2013). The art of environmental adult education: Creative responses to a contemporary ecological imperative. International Journal for Talent Development and Creativity, 2, 53-64.

Clover, D.E., Bell, L. (2013). Contemporary adult education philosophies and practices in art galleries and museums in Canada and the UK. Adult Learner: Irish Journal of Adult and Community Education, 1 (1), 29-43.

Clover, D.E. & McGregor, C. (2012). Women politicians and adult education and learning in British Columbia, Canadian Journal for Adult Education, 25(1), 1-14.

Recent Books

Clover, D.E., Butterwick, S. Chovanec, D. & Collins, L. (Underway). Women, adult education and leadership in Canada. Toronto: Canadian Women’s Scholars Press.

Clover, D.E., Sanford, K. & Butterwick, S. (Eds.) (2013). Aesthetic practice and adult education. Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Taylor & Francis.

Clover, D.E. & Sanford, K. (Eds.) (2013). Lifelong learning, the arts, and creative cultural engagement in the contemporary university: International perspectives. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Clover, D.E., Jayme, B., Hall, B.L. & Follen, S. (2012). The nature of transformation: Environmental adult education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishing.

Hall, B.L., Clover, D.E., Crowther, J. & Scrandett, E. (Eds.) (2012). Learning and education for a better world: The role of social movements. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Clover, D.E. & Stalker, J. (Eds.) (2007). The arts and social justice: Re-crafting adult education and community cultural leadership. Leicester: NIACE.

Recent Chapters

Clover, D.E. (2014). Teaching and facilitating feminist visual arts-based methodologies. In C. Etmanski, T. Dawson & B. Hall (Eds.), Learning and teaching community-based research: Linking pedagogy to practice (pp.135-149). Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Clover, D.E. & Hill, R. (2013). Adult learning, education and the environment. In T. Nesbit & M. Welton (Eds.), Adult education and learning in a precarious age: The Hamburg Declaration revisited (p.49-60). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Clover, D.E. (2013). The art of adult education and community cultural development in Canada. In T. Nesbit, N. Taber, S. Brigham & T. Gibb (Eds.), Building on critical traditions: Adult education and learning in Canada (pp.204-214). Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing.

Special Editions of Journals

Clover, D.E., Sanford, K. & Butterwick, S. (2012). Adult education, the arts and creativity. International Journal of Lifelong Education 31(2).

Hall, B.L., Clover, D.E., Crowther, J. & Scandetti, E. (2011). Social Movement Learning, Studies in Adult Education, 43(2).

Clover, D.E. & Sanford, K. (2011). Creativity, arts and adult education, Journal of Adult and Continuing Education, 17(2).

Clover, D.E. & Sanford, K. (2010). International perspectives on adult education and arts and cultural institutions. Journal of Adult and Continuing Education, 16(2).