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MAIS 644: Adult Education, Community Leadership, and the Crisis of Democracy

View current syllabus.

Delivery mode: Individualized-Study.

Credits: 3

Centre: Master of Arts Integrated Studies

Program: Master of Arts Integrated Studies


MAIS 644 is a course about adult education and community leadership. It begins from the premise that we live in a time of extraordinary worldwide upheaval and questioning about the fate of the earth. The course includes a discussion and critique of the moral and ethical leadership of those commanding the power domains of business and politics.

Among other things, MAIS 644 considers:

  • democracy in our business and community organizations
  • the elements of democratic communication (conversation)
  • ways to speak and act intelligently as designers of just learning organizations

The fundamental question MAIS 644 addresses is whether we can think beyond the boundaries of “liberal democracy” imaginatively, without abandoning existing forms of parliamentary democracy, human rights frameworks, and pluralist forms of life. Can we deepen our theoretical understanding of democracy, pressing the notion into the realm of workplace organization (perhaps bringing down to earth the old dream that workers could control the means of production) and plumbing the dialogic potential within forms of governance and a dynamic civil society?

Student Evaluation

To receive credit for MAIS 644, you must complete the following activities and assignments.

There are three written assignments for MAIS 644. The papers are to be between 8-10 pages.

Assignment 1

  • Discuss the relevance of Habermas’s social theory to our understanding of adult learning. The question of his communication theory must be addressed.
  • Discuss the constituent elements of the theory of deliberative democracy. The question of the significance of the public sphere to a theory of adult learning must be addressed.
  • Using the model of a symposium, construct a dialogue amongst six figures of your choice, who will debate the subject of “Organizational learning: friend or enemy of employees?”
  • Choose one of the six self-study questions posed in the learning activities in Unit 2. Drawing on the course readings, construct your response.

Assignment 2 Choose one of the following questions:

  • Drawing upon your conceptual repertoire from unit 3, examine the deliberative democratic spaces in your own community or city. You could do a kind of mapping exercise—identifying the range and variety of learning moments. Or, you could hone in on particular learning spaces—like a public library—and explore its learning dynamics and contribution to citizen understanding and action.
  • Craft a thoughtful think piece on any one of questions 4-7 in Unit 3.
  • Using your conceptual repertoire acquired thus far, examine the Antigonish Movement as a social movement, full of contradictions, dynamism, and possibilities. Draw lessons for our time.
  • 1. What liberatory moments might you want to retrieve from the historical enactments of Coady, Thomson, Henson and Murray?

Assignment 3

The final course assignment differs from the previous ones. Here, you are invited to create an organizational scenario, manifesting problems pertaining to absence of “good conversation” and/or problems pertaining to creating a respectful multicultural society. After creating the “problem scenario” (either fictional or real), map out strategies for resolution. This paper should try to work in the spirit of deliberative democracy.

Course Structure

The following table summarizes the evaluation activities and the credit weight associated with each evaluation activity.

Activity Weighting
Participation in discussion forums
25 %
Assignment 1
25 %
Assignment 2
25 %
Assignment 3
25 %
100 %


Course Materials

The course materials for Master of Arts-Integrated Studies 644 include the items listed below.


The following textbooks are used in this course. Please consult the Study Schedule in the Course Guide to learn at which points in the course the different readings are required.

  • Welton, M. Designing the Just Learning Society: A Critical Inquiry. Leicester: NIACE, 2005.
  • Welton, M. Little Mosie of the Margaree: A Biography of Moses Michael Cody. Toronto: Thompson Books, 2001.

Athabasca University Material

Study Guide

Reading File

Study Schedule