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Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education
J Gary Knowles

J Gary Knowles
Professor Emeritus

phone: 902 298 0254
email: gary.knowles@utoronto.ca  
email: jgaryknowles@gmail.com

Leadership, Higher and Adult Education

Centre for Arts-Informed Inquiry

Research Overview

Dr. Knowles' research interests include:

-Qualitative (especially ethnographic, life history, autobiographical/auto-ethnographical approaches) and arts-informed research approaches (including alternative processes and forms of representation)
-Environmental, experiential and outdoor education; philosophy of outdoor education
-Educational/school architecture and notions of space/place and perspective/pedagogy
-Teacher and professional education and development (secondary school emphasis and elementary/primary and middle intermediate school interests, with special attention to mature, second-career individuals/adult learners), including parental educating roles (parents as teachers as in home education), and non-formal education
Cultural (especially historical and social) foundations of education
-Alternative, non formal education theory and practice


-Research into elements of humans' experiences of teaching, learning, and being in natural landscapes-with a focus on environmental autobiographies/ecological identities
-Research into the socialization of home-educating parents, instructional and curricular issues in home schools, educational empowerment issues within less privileged home school families, and links between home-educating families and public/private schools
-Research into preservice and beginning teachers' induction, socialization, and development, particularly through frameworks which consider the influence of biographies/personal histories and personal narrative constructs of experience
-Research into programmatic aspects of teacher and professional education, particularly the place and role of field experiences in preservice teacher education, and collaborative/inquiry approaches to professional development
-Research into aspects of the teacher education professoriate, particularly the junior professoriate and the institutional and programmatic contexts in which university teacher educators work. Associated with this is exploration into my own practices as a teacher educator
-Research into the human animal bond especially as it relates to the ends of the spectrum of experience - older adults' well being and growth and children's learning
-Research into pedagogies associated with non-profit and charitable organisations
-Research into academic workplaces

Academic History

Undergraduate work in New Zealand and Australia

Graduate work in New Zealand, Kentucky, and Utah

Graduate teaching in Kentucky, Utah, and Canada

Professorships at The University of Michigan and the University of Toronto

Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto

Teaching Overview

Dr. Knowles has taught the following courses at OISE and similar courses at universities in Quebec and the Maritimes:

AEC 1103H Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods in Adult Education
AEC 1108H Adult Learning
AEC 1178H Practioner/Ecological Identity and Reflexive Inquiry
AEC 3131H Special topics in Adult Education: Home Education as an Alternative to Public Education
AEC 3171H Perspectives on Qualitative Research
AEC 3176H Sense of Place in Professional and Natural Contexts
AEC 3177H Arts-Informed Perspectives in Educational Reserach

Representative Publications

Daghighi-Latham S. & Knowles, J. G. (Eds) (Forthcoming 2010). The arts in organisation research. Creative explorations of the workplace.

Cole, A. L., & Knowles, J. G. (2009). Researching teaching: Exploring teacher development through reflexive inquiry. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Backalong Books. (220 p.)

Knowles, J. G., Cole, A. L., & Promislow, S. (2008). Creating scholartistry: Imagining the arts-informed thesis or dissertation (Vol. 4, Arts-informed Inquiry Series). Halifax, Nova Scotia & Toronto, Ontario: Backalong Books & Centre for Arts-informed Research.

Knowles, J. G., & Cole, A. L., with Presswood, C. S. (2008). Through preservice teachers' eyes: Exploring field experiences through narrative and inquiry. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Backalong Books. (374 p.)

Knowles, J. G., & Cole, A. L. (Eds.) (2008). Handbook of the arts in qualitative research: Perspectives, methodologies, examples, and issues. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. (800 p.)

See other arts-informed or -related books at www.backalongbooks.com

Knowles, J. G., Luciani, T. , Cole, A. L., & Neilsen, L. (Eds.) (2007). The art of visual inquiry (Vol. 3, Arts-informed Inquiry Series). Halifax, Nova Scotia & Toronto, Ontario: Backalong Books & Centre for Arts-informed Research. (346 p.)

Professional Activities


Professor Knowles is available for consulting in any of the areas noted above and interested in collaborative research activities with community-based groups or individuals.

Theses Completions

As of 2013, 40 Doctoral students have completed their theses under my direct supervision. Of these, more than one third used an arts informed research perspective. In total I have served on over 90 thesis committees.


I welcome inquiries about supervision from existing University of Toronto graduate students and potential applicants. I am particularly interested in working with thesis researchers who have grounded connections with one or more of my research or specialization interests and are willing to push the envelope with respect to the inquiry process and the representational forms that their work may exhibit. Creative expressions of the researching enterprise are highly valued by me. Feel free to submit to me ideas for research projects along with a recent CV and perhaps one example of artistic and/or written work.

I welcome requests to serve on supervisory committees in other institutions and regularly serve as an external reviewer of graduate thesis research completed at other institutions. I also welcome opportunities to mentor new and emerging scholars/researchers/academics who are situated at the University of Toronto and other institutions. I am particularly interested in the intersections of research and teaching practice and the ways that alternative (arts-related) orientations to research play out in professional lives.