Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version





Copyright 1997 American Society for Horticultural Science. Used by permission.


Beginning in 1810 at Harvard Univ., mid-career and senior faculty were presented with opportunities for faculty renewal and development through sabbatical leaves. The focus was on increasing knowledge, skills, and research, particularly as a content expert. Faculty also attended their academic discipline annual meetings and conferences to increase content development.

Even with strong academic traditions and professional autonomy, some institutions began to provide expanded professional development activities, particularly to address teaching. However, the focus was often on seminars, with the major outcome to increase the subject matter expertise of the faculty.

Starting in the late 1950s, the academic and popular literature began to reflect a developmental perspective about faculty as adult learners in addition to content experts. Erikson (1959), a leading developmental psychologist, described stages aging adults must address. Of particular interest is the tension between "generativity" and "stagnation." More in the popular vein, Sheehy (1976) wrote the best selling book Passages based at least on some scientific background, which highlighted that adults continue to learn and grow. Studies by Vaillant (1977), Levinson et a1. (1978), and Gould (1978), through interviews with adult males, further defined various developmental tasks for adult learners to address. Additionally, Gilligan (1982) provided the other gender perspective of growth and development that broadened the understanding of adult learning as learning embedded in relationships.