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Dr Rick Flowers


Since 2008 Rick Flowers has been Head of Adult Education and Postgraduate Programs in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). In this portfolio there are courses in popular education and social change, organisational and workplace learning, adult literacy and numeracy teaching, applied linguistics, TESOL, e-learning, Indigenous Studies, journalism, public relations, organisational communication, information and knowledge management, media arts production, creative writing and international studies.

Rick was Director of the Centre for Popular Education at the University of Technology, Sydney from 1999 to 2007. The Centre for Popular Education undertook research in environmental education and advocacy, community cultural development, health education and community development, the pedagogy and politics of working with young people, union and community organising, and community leadership. The Centres research annual income varied between $50,000 and $700,000. In 2005 it employed six contract researchers, a full-time manager, two research assistants. Seven tenured staff also worked with the Centre. In this time, Rick led over 20 commissioned action research, evaluation and curriculum projects. Clients have included national, state and local government agencies, philanthropic foundations and NGOs. Rick conceived and convened a series of three-day international conferences plus one-day symposia that earned him and the Centre

Previous work includes appointment as a Research Fellow (ARC grant) investigating Aboriginal adult educator training needs, co-ordinator of a rurally based community development training program, and community work in Western Sydney.

Rick has undertaken an extensive amount of pro bono work serving on boards of management with a range of community service and sporting organisations including a football club with almost 2,000 players, a regional football association, a youth refuge, a legal services body and youth sector training organisation.

Image of Rick Flowers
Senior Lecturer, Adult Learning and Applied Linguistics Program
Senior Lecturer, Learning Cultures & Practices Group
Associate Member, Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Research Centre
Core Member, Creative Practice and Cultural Economy
BA (London), GradDipAdultEd (UTS), MA (Freiburg), PhD (UTS)
+61 2 9514 8407

Research Interests

Rick is currently collaborating with Elaine Swan. Drawing on Ricks research on collective action and learning, and Elaines work on whiteness, gender and public pedagogies, they are developing a major research programme on food pedagogies. They use the term to explore the way that the growing, buying, preparing, cooking, tasting, eating and disposing of food have become the target of intensified pedagogical activity across a range of domains including cooking programs, social movements, activist films and public health education. In other words, no longer is it just your physical education and home economics teachers, and parents, who teach/preach what food is good for you, but there are now countless TV programs, advertisements, magazines, blogs, festivals, restaurants, supermarkets, growers markets and shops also teaching. Their research seeks to analyse the moral economy of constructions of learners, food knowledges, skills, expertises and how these are racialised, classed and gendered. In less than two years, Rick and Elaine have published four journal papers, and are editing a special issue on Food Pedagogies in the Australian Journal of Adult Learning to come out in November 2012, plus editing a book with Ashgate.

They are undertaking fieldwork in southwestern Sydney. The research is significant and innovative a number of different ways. First, this project focuses upon an under researched and under theorised food pedagogy: the ethnic food tour. There is important literature on culinary tourism and some of this discusses issues of race, ethnicity, class and gender. Second, the research is significant and innovative methodologically: we are using innovative research methods such as walking ethnography, and visceral fieldwork which can contribute to the field of food studies and adult education. Very little of this has attended to issues of race and ethnicity. Thirdly, much public pedagogy research stays at the level of media analysis and does not look at how pedagogies may be constructed by the teacher and received by the imagined learners. Fourthly, we are seeking to internationalise our research by undertaking cross-cultural comparison in order to understand the interface between state tourisms, multiculturalisms, histories and constructions of food, ethnicity and in particular, Asia and Asianness. Fifthly, we are bringing new methods and ideas of bodies and senses to the study of public pedagogy.

Ricks track record led to repeat invitations to lead action research projects in the fields of capacity building for the advocacy-oriented environment movement, grassroots community leadership initiatives, health promotion, and Aboriginal community development. His work has played an important role in raising the profile of popular education.

All of Ricks doctoral students focus on education for citizenship and community development and their settings traverse schools, technical and further education colleges, health promotion, community arts and democracy-building struggles in the face of dictatorships.

Can supervise: Yes

New Media and Social Change
Global Problem Solving
Organisational Learning and Change: Local and Global
Research Perspectives
Adult Learning and Program Development


Flowers, R. 2009, 'How effective are youth workers in activating young people's voices?' in Rob White (ed), Concepts and Methods of Youth Work, Australian Clearinghouse for Youth Studies, Hobart, Australia, pp. 355-368.
This paper presents an argument that questions the dominant discourse of empowerment in youth work practice. I report on the analysis of the discourse of a sample of youth and community workers.
Hawke, G.A. & Flowers, R. 2000, 'The recognition of prior learning in australia' in Evans Norman (ed), Experential learning around the world: employability & the global economy, Jessica Kingsley, London UK, pp. 151-166.
Flowers, R. & Hawke, G.A. 2000, 'The recognition of prior learning in Australia' in Norman Evans (ed), Experiential learning around the world: employability & the global economy, Taylor and Francis, Philadelphia.
Flowers, R. & McDaniel, M.J. 1995, 'Adult Education and Indigenous Australians' in Griff Foley (ed), Understanding Adult Education and Training, Allen and Unwin, Sydney.
Flowers, R. & Foley, G. 1992, 'Aboriginal Adult Education in Australia' in Willis, P. & Harris, R. (eds), Striking a Balance: Adult and Community Education in Australia: Towards the Year 2000, University of South Australia and Australian Association and Adult and Community Education, Canberra, pp. 1-10.
Flowers, R. 1991, 'Aboriginal Community Development' in Nick Mannning (ed), Mosaics: A Training Resource for Community Workers in Western Sydney, Western Sydney Community Forum, Sydney, pp. 110-117.
Foley, G., Flowers, R., Camilleri, S. & Ingram, N. 1990, 'Towards an Aboriginal Community Controlled Adult Education' in Mark Tennnat (ed), Adult and Continuing Education in Australia: Issues and Practises, Routledge Kegan and Paul, London, pp. 1-27.


Flowers, R. 2010, 'Historical musing about popular education in Australia'.
Flowers, R. 2009, 'Different notions of peer education'.
Flowers, R. 2009, 'Storymaking, popular education and cultural diversity in a cardiac hospital ward'.
Flowers, R. 2009, 'Popular Education: German and Australian comparisons'.
Flowers, R. 2009, 'Popular education, health promotion and community development'.
Flowers, R. 2008, 'Arts and Co-production for Diversity Health'.
Flowers, R. 2008, 'Professionalisation and adult education in Australia'.
Flowers, R. 2007, 'A Critique of Trickle-down Theories of Community Education'.
Flowers, R. 2007, 'Local councils and schools working together for climate change, sustainability and active citizenship'.
Flowers, R. 2007, 'New forms of education for active citizenship using digital technologies'.
Flowers, R. 2007, 'Implications of the New Research Methodologies in Howardâs âClever Countryâ'.
Flowers, R. 2005, 'Education and Social Action', Education and Social Action, Centre for Popular Education UTS, Sydney, pp. 1-459.
Flowers, R. 2005, 'Popular Education and Action Research'.
Flowers, R. 2004, 'Participatory and Engaging, but not Emancipatory: Democracy and Informal Education in Singapore', Adult Education for Democracy, Social Justice and a Culture of Peace, Adult Education Research Conference (AERC) and the Canadian Association for the Study of Adult Educa, Victoria, Canada, pp. 148-154.
Flowers, R. 2004, 'Education and Social Action', Education and Social Action, Centre for Popular Education, UTS, Sydney.
Flowers, R. 2003, 'School â Community Collaborations through Community Cultural Development'.
Flowers, R. 2003, 'Community Capacity Building'.
Flowers, R. 2002, 'Building School Communities'.
Flowers, R. 2001, 'Global and Popular Education'.
Flowers, R. 2000, 'Community Capacity Building'.
Flowers, R. 1997, 'Can Competency Assessment Support Struggles for Community Development and Self-Determination?', Partnerships in Assessment, Auckland Institute of Technology, Auckland, pp. 50-68.
invited keynote address
Flowers, R. 1997, 'Community Work, Youth Work and Popular Education', Community Work, Youth Work and Popular Education. Revised Conference Proceedings, Department of Community and Aboriginal Education, UTS, Sydney, pp. 1-310.
Flowers, R. 1997, 'Is informal education a field of practice? A comparison of Anglo, American and German perspectives'.
Flowers, R. 1996, 'What do youth workers help young people learn?'.
Flowers, R. 1996, 'The Discourse and Politics of Working with Young People'.
Flowers, R. 1994, 'The Educational Dimension of Community Work'.
Flowers, R. 1993, 'Competency Assessment'.
Flowers, R. 1993, 'Competency Standards in the Community Services Industry'.
Flowers, R. 1992, 'How will competency based training affect youth workers?'.
Seminar address
Flowers, R. 1992, 'Youth Sector Training and National Training Reform Agenda'.
Flowers, R. 1992, 'Activists as Educators'.
Flowers, R. 1992, 'Problem Based Training Program for Legal Support Workers'.
Flowers, R. 1991, 'Adult Education, Community Development and Community Welfare'.
Flowers, R. 1989, 'Neighbourhood Centres, the Department of Community Services and Aboriginal Communities'.
Flowers, R. 1988, 'Finding Our Voices, Seeing With New Eyes', International League for Social Commitment in Adult Education Conference, Institute for Technical & Adult Education, UTS, Sydney, pp. 1-88.
Flowers, R. 1988, 'Research as Dialogue: A Case Study of Participatory Strategies'.

Journal articles

Flowers, R. & Swan, E. 2012, 'Eating the Asian Other? Pedagogies of Food Multiculturalism in Australia', Portal Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 1-30.
Public pedagogies in tourism and education in Australia suggest that food is a medium through which we learn more about each others cultures: in other words food is a pedagogy of multiculturalism. Drawing on a white Anglo Australian mans memories of food in different intercultural encounters, this paper prises open the concept of eating the Other. There has been trenchant critique of food multiculturalism and the consuming cosmopolitan in Australia (Hage 1997; Probyn 2004; Duruz 2010). Thus, several writers critique the prevailing idea that eating ethnic food is a sign of cosmopolitanism, and even anti-racism, in individuals and cities in Australia (Hage 1997; Sheridan 2002; Duruz 2010). Hence, the notion of eating the Other has been taken up to discuss how ethnicity becomes an object of enrichment for white people through the eating of ethnic food in restaurants (Hage 1997) and cooking ethnic food at home (Heldke 2003). In this paper we present an `entangled story of Frank which includes white expatriate masculinity, multiculturalism with ethnics and what Heldke calls `colonial food adventuring. Drawing on a close reading of Franks story, we argue that an evaluation of food multiculturalism needs to historicise, gender and racialise inter-cultural food encounters. Thus, we argue that there are ethnic food socialities other than those of home-building or restaurant multiculturalisms. We suggest that culturalist and political economy pedagogies of food multiculturalism could be augmented by one that attends to the production of whiteness and gender.
Flowers, R. & Swan, E. 2012, 'Why food? Why pedagogy? Why adult education?', Australian Journal of Adult Learning, vol. 52, no. 3, pp. 419-433.
Flowers, R. 2012, 'Researching the Recognition of Prior Learning: International Perspectives', Studies in the Education of Adults, vol. 44, no. 2, pp. 254-256.
Flowers, R. 2011, 'Popular Education and Advocacy for Refugees and Asylum Seekers', Education Links, vol. 68.
Flowers, R. 2011, 'Aboriginal Adult Education, Employment and Community Development Issues in Western Sydney', WESTIRâs Western Sydney Letter, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 12-17.
Flowers, R. & Swan, E. 2011, 'Eating at Us: Representations of Knowledge in the activist documentary film Food Inc', Studies in the Education of Adults, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 234-250.
Writing on social movement learning and environmental adult education invokes particular views on knowledge that need further examination and development in relation to food social movements. Although food social movements take different forms, the paper argues that the politics of food knowledge is at the centre of many of these movements. Contributing to the discourse of social movement learning, this article focuses on the film Food, Inc., an important activist resource and documentary film about a particular food movement. We analyse how it legitimates certain forms of knowledge about food production and consumption and de-legitimates others. Whilst a useful case study on knowledge and film activism in itself, the article seeks to challenge what it sees as some key tenets about knowledge in social movement learning literature. One key tenet is that it is self-evident whose interests are served by 'ordinary people's knowledge' and 'scientific knowledge.' Instead, it is argued that when it comes to collective action for food there is ambiguity, messiness and contestation about what constitutes knowledge and, in particular, anti-capitalist knowledge. But realisation of such ambiguity, messiness and contestation should not lead to paralysed inaction, but to informed and nuanced action. A question then for social movement learning practitioners is how they can mobilise social change through a broader sense of knowledge and its effects.
Flowers, R. 2011, 'Historical musings about popular education in Australia', New Community Quarterly, vol. 9, no. 35, pp. 4-9.
Flowers, R. 2009, 'Traditions of Popular Education', Report Zeitschrift fuer Weiterbildungsforschung, vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 9-22.
View/Download from: Publisher's site
Popular education is a term which has been used for a considerable time. At the out~ set, however, it should be pointed out that there are multiple perspectives, but they do not "speak" much to each other. There is a tendency to define popular education in narrow and formulaic terms, according to which tradition one is drawing on. I counter this by discussing four traditions and attempt to distil common features across the multiplicity.
Flowers, R. 2009, 'Can competency assessment support struggles for community development and self-determination', Report Zeitschrift fuer Weiterbildungsforschung, vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 23-35.
III this paper an argument is presented that if competency assessment is to make any contribution as a potentially "liberating" curriculum strategy for struggles of commu~ nity development and self~determination thell it needs to contest the authoritarianism of the national qualification frameworks that have been established in Australia and New Zealand. This article critiques research and policy efforts, in particular for indigenous learners which seeh to merely make authoritarian curriculum and assessment structures more culturally appropriate, more accessible and equitable rather than changing and democratisillg the structures themselves.
Flowers, R., Guevara, R. & Whelan, J. 2009, 'Popular and environmental education: The need for more research in an 'emerging' field of practice', Report Zeitschrift fuer Weiterbildungsforschung, vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 36-50.
Environmental education that fosters meaningful community participation and learning has been considered a requisite to sustaining our human and natural environments in many of the global conferences, agreements, declarations and charters since the 1972 UN Conference on the Environment in Stockholm. Despite this growing consensus there is a smail amount of published research in Australia in this field of practice we have decided to call popular and informal environmental education - education that often involves adults in social action. The authors argue, howevel; that there is no shortage of educational practice that can be described as popular and informal environmental education. The autors propose a typology that will assist in defining this field of practice and establish theoretical links with the emerging field of environmental adult education.
Flowers, R. & Chodkiewicz, A.K. 2009, 'Communities and schools tackling sustainability and climate change: the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative in NSW', Australian Journal of Environmental Education, vol. 25, pp. 71-83.
Local communities and their schools remain key sites for actions tackling issues of sustainability and climate change. A government-funded environmental education initiative, the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI), working together with state based Sustainable Schools Programs (SSP), has the ability to support the development of more effective community and school relationships. We are interested in the possibilities of enabling more authentic and transformative learning experiences in community and school relationships, by developing a more analytical approach to communities and schools working together. Drawing on Uzzell's (1999) framework and a number of recent empirical studies we describe how communities and schools in one Australian State, New South Wales, have been working together for environmental sustainability. We point to how the links between local communities and schools continue to be under-utilised, and suggest ways that these important relationships can be strengthened and extended.
Flowers, R. & Trede, F.V. 2005, 'Diversity Healthâ â Emanzipatorische Pädagogik and Gemeinwesenkunst: Ein Fallbeispiel: Geschichtsbilder auf der Kardiologiestation im Prince of Wales Krankenhaus in Australien', Alice, vol. 10, pp. 1-7.
Flowers, R. 2002, 'Evaluation Perspectives and Practices in Community Cultural Development: A theoretical introduction', Artwork, vol. 53.
Flowers, R. & Foley, G. 1992, 'Knowledge and Power in Aboriginal Adult Education', Convergence, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 61-74.
Explores the complexity of translating rhetorical commitment into action in Aboriginal control of adult education in Australia. Relationship between aboriginal knowledge with white knowledge; identification of learning needs of aboriginal people.
Flowers, R. 1984, 'What is the Use of Geography?', Bloomsbury Geographer, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 21-25.


Flowers, R. 2008, Champions for Sustainability: Seeking to Change Consciousness and Discourse, Individual and Organisational Behaviour, Policies and Political Priorities.
Suhood, T., Flowers, R. & Gethin, A. Blacktown Alcohol and Other Drugs Family Service 2006, Bridges Strategy Stage II: Final Report - Young people and adults working together around drug issues, pp. 1-70, Blacktown.
research report
Flowers, R. & Gethin, A. Sydney West Area Health Service 2006, The K@toomba Program: An equity strategy to address the social determinants of health, pp. 1-72, Sydney.
research report
Flowers, R. & Chodkiewicz, A.K. Blacktown City Council 2006, Community Leadership in Mount Druitt, pp. 1-42, Sydney.
Flowers, R. Prince of Wales Hospital 2006, Cardiac Storyboards: Patient Education, pp. 1-13, Sydney.
Flowers, R. 2006, The Ratbags from Airds: Challenges for Community Action.
Flowers, R. 2006, Cardiac Storyboards: Patient Education.
Flowers, R. 2006, Community Leadership in Mount Druitt.
Flowers, R. 2006, The K@toomba Program: An equity strategy to address the social determinants of health.
Flowers, R. & Chodkiewicz, A.K. NSW Department of Education and Training 2005, The role of school-community relationships for sustainability education, pp. 1-45, Sydney.
Brown, T. & Flowers, R. Centre for Popular Education, UTS 2005, Micro-enterprise development and social capital in Mount Druitt, pp. 1-34, Sydney.
Flowers, R. 2005, The role of school â community relationships for sustainability education.
Flowers, R. 2005, Micro-enterprise development and social capital in Mount Druitt.
Flowers, R. & Waddell, D. Centre for Popular Education, UTS 2004, Community Leadership for Belonging: The Marrickville Experience, pp. 1-62, Sydney.
Flowers, R. & McEwen, C. Centre for Popular Education UTS 2004, Holding the Torch to Re-ignite Community in East Gippsland and South West Victoria, pp. 1-72, Sydney.
Flowers, R. 2004, Community Leadership for Belonging â The Marrickville Experience.
Flowers, R. 2004, Holding the Torch to Re-ignite Community in East Gippsland and South West Victoria.
Flowers, R. & Chodkiewicz, A.K. South West Sydney Area Health Service 2003, Engaging young people in the middle years of schooling in Macquarie Fields public housing estate, pp. 1-53, Sydney.
Flowers, R., McEwen, C. & Trede, F.V. Centre for Popular Education UTS 2003, Community Cultural Development and Popular Education in Clinical Settings, pp. 1-32, Sydney.
Flowers, R. 2003, Engaging young people in the middle years of schooling in Macquarie Fields public housing estate.
Flowers, R. 2003, Community Cultural Development and Popular Education in Clinical Settings.
Flowers, R., Yasukawa, K., McEwen, C. & Johnston, B. Australian Securities and Investment Commission 2001, Review of literature to assist development of national consumer education strategies, pp. 1-54, Sydney.
Flowers, R. & Parlane, L. Mittagong Forum 2001, Building the strength and sustainability of the Australian environment movement, pp. 1-67, Canberra.
This project was undertaken for a coalition of major environmental advocacy groups in Australia. This continues to inform strategic development and training.
Flowers, R. 2001, Bridges: A Social Capital and Community Strengthening Strategy to Address Alcohol and other Drug Issues.
Flowers, R. 2000, Capacity building and training in the advocacy-oriented Australian environment movement.
Flowers, R. 1997, Reconciliation for Young Australians, pp. 1-243.
Flowers, R. 1997, Education and Indigenous Australians.
Flowers, R. 1996, Community Cultural Development.
Flowers, R. 1995, Women of non-English speaking background in the Health Care System, pp. 1-21.
Flowers, R. 1995, Management of Adult and Community Education.
Flowers, R., Sallik, B., Blomeley, N. & Hughes, P. Department of Employment, Education and Training 1994, A Review and Critical Analysis of Recent Research relating to Aboriginal Education, pp. 1-84, Canberra.
commissioned report
Flowers, R. 1994, A Review and Critical Analysis of Recent Research relating to Aboriginal Education, pp. 1-81.
Flowers, R., Cohen, R., Mcdonald, R.J. & Schaafsma, H. Australian Vice-Chancellorsâ Committee 1993, Learning From Experience Counts: Recognition of Prior Learning in Australian Universities, pp. 1-55, Canberra.
Flowers, R. & McIntyre, J. Marrickville Community Legal Centre 1993, Defining the Needs and Issues of Young People in the Legal System. Sydney, pp. 1-62, Sydney.
Flowers, R. & McIntyre, J. Marrickville Community Legal Centre 1993, The Nature of Legal Support with Young People, pp. 1-18, Sydney.
Flowers, R. & McIntyre, J. Marrickville Community Legal Centre 1993, Practitioner and Young Persons Perspectives, pp. 1-54, Sydney.
Flowers, R. & McIntyre, J. Marrickville Community Legal Centre 1993, Aboriginal Perspectives on Legal Support, pp. 1-34, Sydney.
Flowers, R. & McIntyre, J. Marrickville Community Legal Centre 1993, A Collaborative Training Model, pp. 1-48, Sydney.
Flowers, R. 1993, Aboriginal Perspectives on Legal Support, pp. 1-34.
Flowers, R. 1993, Learning From Experience Counts: Recognition of Prior Learning in Australian Universities, pp. 1-55.
Flowers, R. 1993, Defining the Needs and Issues of Young People in the Legal System, pp. 1-62.
Flowers, R. 1993, A Collaborative Training Model, pp. 1-48.
Flowers, R. 1993, The Nature of Legal Support with Young People, pp. 1-18.
Flowers, R. 1993, Practitioner and Young Personsâ Perspectives, pp. 1-54.
Flowers, R. NSW Youth Sector Training Council 1992, Experience Based Learning : Building Sustainable Training Strategies in the Youth Sector, pp. 1-38, Sydney.
Flowers, R. 1992, Experience Based Learning: Building Sustainable Training Strategies in the Youth Sector, pp. 1-38.
Flowers, R. 1991, Directions! A Youth Workerâs Training Map!!!, pp. 1-210.
Foley, G. & Flowers, R. UTS 1990, Strategies for Self-Determination: Aboriginal Adult Education, Training and Community Development in NSW, pp. 1-176, Sydney.
Flowers, R. Sydney College of Advanced Education 1989, Adult Education and Training in Aboriginal Communities: Two Case Studies of Adult Education Needs, Existing Adult Education Provision and Strategies to get more Training, pp. 1-24, Sydney.
Flowers, R. Sydney College of Advanced Education 1988, The Need for Aboriginal Community Adult Educators: Case Studies and Strategies, pp. 1-28, Sydney.
Flowers, R. Fairfield City Council 1987, Community Participation in the Transport Planning Process: Community Transport in Western Sydney, pp. 1-32, Sydney.