Phyllis Cunningham Personal Vita

Phyllis Cunningham

Personal Vita

12/3/02 Compiled by Laura A. Woodhouse




Phyllis Cunningham


[source: Roger Hiemstra]




Bio/historical Note


Currently, Phyllis Cunningham is Presidential Teaching Professor at Northern Illinois University. She is widely published, has been presented with numerous awards, and was inducted to the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame in 1996. Phyllis earned her Ph.D from the University of Chicago in 1973, and has been an active participant in the field of adult education. The main emphasis of much of Phyllis’s work involves focus on community development, participatory research, and critical pedagogy. Through her education, experience, active participation, research, and publications, Phyllis Cunningham has made great contributions to the field of Adult Education.


[Sources: and]



Birth Date


November 10, 1927


Source of birth date:]





1947--Elmira College, earned B.A. in Biology-Chemistry


1950--Western Reserve University, earned M.N. Master of Nursing


1960--Western Reserve University, earned M.S. in Nursing Administration


1973--University of Chicago, earned Ph.D. in Department of Education





Work History


1950-1956--Nurse Administrator (University Hospitals of Cleveland)


1956-1958--Volunteer Staff Developer and Administrator, Pioneer Girls (Lake Erie Region)


1958-1961--Volunteer Staff Developer and Administrator, Pioneer Girls (Southwest)


1961-1965--Volunteer Staff Developer and Administrator, Pioneer Girls (West Coast)


1965-1968--Director, National Leadership Training Center, Pioneer Girls (Chicago)


1972-1974--Assistant Project Director, “National Study of Cost Benefit Relationships in Adult Education” (University of Chicago)


1974-1976--Director, Study Unlimited, and Dean, Center for Open Learning, City Colleges of Chicago


1976-1977--Graduate Studies in Adult Continuing Education, Assistant Professor Northern Illinois University)


1976-1980--Associate Project Director, Regional Adult Education Services Centers (Northern Illinois University)


1977-1982--Associate Professor (Northern Illinois University)


1982- Present--Professor, Graduate Studies in Adult Education (Northern IllinoisUniversity)


1986- Present--Assistant to the chair, Leadership and Educational Policy Studies Department (Northern Illinois University)


1980-1988--Project Director, Regional Adult Education Service Centers (Northern Illinois University)


1996-1997--Project Director, “Bottom up Leadership Development through Participatory Research and Study Circles”, Urban Community Service Program, Department of Education


[Sources: and




Associated Subjects


Community Development


Critical Pedagogy


Participatory Research





Associated People


Sharan Merriam


Robert M. Smith


[Source: Roger Hiemstra]





1982--Outstanding Adult Educators Award, American Association of Adult Continuing Education, Washington, DC


1988--Honorary Professor, Shanghai Second Institute of Education, Shanghai, PRC


1989--Outstanding Service Award, American Association of Adult Continuing Education, Atlantic City, N.J.


1990--John Ranton McIntosh Visiting Scholar Award, University of Saskatchewan


1993--Top ten Graduate Teaching Excellence Award, Leadership and Policy Studies Department, Northern Illinois University


1994-1998--Presidential Teaching Professor Award, Northern Illinois University


1995--Outstanding Service and Dedication to Latino(a) and African American Students in Adult Continuing Education, Northern Illinois University


1996--Phyllis M. Cunningham Annual Award for Research for Social Justice; Established in the Adult Education Research Conference


1999--Northern Illinois University Minority Faculty and Staff Award


[Sources: and]




(With Robert M. Smith, co-editors). Adult Education: Journal of Theory and Research, Quarterly, Adult Education Association, Washington, D.C., 1979-1982, 20 issues.


A Response to the North-South Dialog. International Task Force of the Commission of Professors of Adult Education, October, 1983, 14 pages.


Popular Education in Brazil. Community Development Society, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, July, 1986, 12 pages.


Participatory Formation in Adult Education. A Bulletin of the Participatory Formation Network, International Council for Adult Education, Leadership and Education Policy Studies Department, DeKalb, IL, 1987-1992.


Adult Education and Social Responsibility. Ethics and the Adult Educator, Ralph Brockett (ed.). New York: Teacher’s College Press, 1988, 133-145.


(With Edwin Hamilton, co-authored). Community Based Adult Education. Handbook of Adult Continuing Education. S. Merriam and P.Cunningham (Eds.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc., 1989.


(With John Ohliger, co-editors). Radical Thinking in Adult Education. Syracuse: Kellog Project, Syracuse University, 1989, 90 pages, ERIC ED 305-462, CE 052 180.


Making a More Significant Impact on Society. Fulfilling the Promise of Adult Continuing Education. Allan Quigley (ed). New Directions in Continuing Education, No. 44, Winter, 1989, 33-45.


(With Sharan Merriam, co-editors). Handbook of Adult Continuing Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc., 1989, 678 pages.


(With Trudy Pyeciphs and Jack Mezirow). The Legacy of Myles Horton. Adult Literacy and Basic Education, 14:3, 1990, 151-158.


Learning From the Metis People of Northern Canada. Focus on Study Circles, Study Circles Resources Center, Pomfret, CT 06258, Fall, 1990, 5-6.


The Practice of Peace Studies in Adult Education. Adult Learning, American Association of Adult Continuing Education, Washington, DC, Vol. 3, No.1, September, 1991, 15-16, 27.


(With Sue Collard, Michael Collins, and Michael Welton). Developing the Text Together: Toward a Critical Practice of Adult Education. Proceedings, Canadian Association for Studies in Adult Education, Kingston, Ontario, June 7, 1991, 45-50.


Making Spaces: Recruiting African Americans and Afrocentrism in an Eurocentric University. National Council for Black Studies, Atlanta, Georgia, March 23, 1991.


Education Research Conference, University of Saskatchewan, May, 1992, 284-293.


From Freire to Feminism: The North American Experience with Critical Pedagogy. Adult Education Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 3, 1992, 180-191.


U.S. Adult Education and HRD: A Call for Critique. P. Cunningham (Ed.). Economic Development, Social Progress and Adult Education: 1992 Shanghai International Conference, Proceedings, LEPS Department, Northern Illinois University, 1992, 2-14.


Let’s Get Real: A Critical Look at the Practice of Adult Education. Mountain Plains Adult Education Journal, Vol.22, No. 1, Fall, 1993, 3-15.


The Politics of Worker’s Education: Preparing Workers to Sleep with the Enemy. Adult Learning, Vol. 5, No. 1, 1993, 13-14, 24.


University Continuing Educators Should Be Social Activists. Canadian Journal of University Continuing Education. Vol. XVIII, No. 2, 1993, 9-17.


The Two Faces of Literacy. (A keynote speech read at the Michigan State Literary Conference, September 20, 1993). Literacy Networks: A Journal of Literacy Providers, Vol. 1, No. 1, October, 1994, 1-9.


Community Education and Community Development. International Encyclopedia of Education, Second Edition, Husen, T. and Postlewaite, T. (Eds.). Tarytown, New York: Elsevier Science Inc., Vol. 2, 1994, 900-907.


U.S. Educational Policy and Adult Education: Social Control, Social Demand and Professional Adult Education Preparation. Proceedings 26th Annual Adult Education Research Conference, University of Saskatchewan, May 1995, 81-90.


Organic Intellectuals of the State and Political Struggles in the University. Proceedings: International Conference on Educating the Adult Educator: Role of the University, Commonwealth Conference, Canmore, Alberta, May 1995, 21-28.


When is Participation-Participation: A Study of Power Relationships. Lecture Series: Adult Education in Contemporary Times, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, June 14-15, 1996, 12 pages.


Being Socially Responsible in Work and Education. University Colloquium, 7th Annual Distinguished Visiting Professor of Adult Education, University of Alaska, June 27, 1996, 15 pages.


United States of America. International Review of Education, Special Section: Adult Education- The Legislative and Policy Environment, UNESCO, Vol. 42, Nos. 1-3, 1996, 167-186.


Race, Gender, Class and the Practice of Adult Education in the United States. Towards a Transformative Political Economy of Adult Education: Theoretical and Practical Challenges. Paul Wangoola and Frank Youngman (Eds.). DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University LEPS Press, 1996, 139-160.


The Social Dimension of Transformative Learning. PAACE Journal of Lifelong Learning, (7) 1998, 15-28.


Education and Learning in the Real World: A Sociology of Adult Education. Handbook of Adult Education. A. Wilson and B. Hayes (Eds.), (2000).






Associated Web Links

See also her Hall of Fame induction material.

-- Cross-reference to Project Vitae in Adult Education

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