Professor Stephen Billett (Photo credit: Laurent Filliettaz, University of Geneva)

Professor Stephen Billett, a leading scholar in adult learning and development and work-based learning, has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Geneva at the Dies academicus ceremony, that he attended remotely on 9 October.

The degree of doctor honoris causa is granted by the University ‘to recognize the excellence and influence of individuals in the main fields of knowledge it covers’.

The University of Geneva stated that this award recognises Professor Billett for his ‘contributions to the field of adult and vocational education, promoting Francophone accounts of learning through practice, contributing to the development of staff and students at the University of Geneva as an exemplary lifelong learner’.

Professor Billett shared what this award means to him, stating,

‘Whilst this is a pleasing personal accolade, this award is also important for the field of adult and vocational education, and particularly coming from an institution that has been so foundational in the field of child learning and development’.

Professor Billet has been a long-standing advocate of vocation education, evident across his research and career. He said,

‘All too often, vocational education is presented in negative or highly pragmatic ways, and adult education is seen as being peripheral. However, both are important, and growing in their salience to countries with advanced industrial economies who need not just specific skills but adaptability, and also are requiring adults to remain competent in their work and engaged in social and cultural life’.

He added, that this degree signifies the importance of scientific collaboration across national and linguistic divides, adding,

‘One of the most important aspects of my work with colleagues at Geneva has been exploring and making accessible to Anglophone audiences important conceptual and scientific concepts that are largely restricted to the Francophone world. So, whilst researchers in Anglophone and Francophone cultures were exploring related problems and issues, the opportunity to understand these further from both perspectives was important and realised through collaborations – working together and respecting the different traditions and discourses’.

As well as his prior research with colleagues at the University of Geneva on how learning through practice is conceptualised and understood, his ongoing work includes reciprocal partnerships. Professor Billet explained,

‘Professor Laurent Filliettaz is a Partner Investigator on an ARC Discovery Project about learning across working life, and I am an advisor to his project funded by the Swiss Research Council on developing the capacities of early childhood educators’.


‘I will also continue to do guest teaching every second year on supporting and augmenting learning through work in a Master’s program’.

Congratulations to Professor Billett for his continued contribution to professional and practice-based learning.

Read full story at the University of Geneva Rectorate website.

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