With this special issue of the International Journal of Lifelong Education, we complete a two-year celebration and critical examination of the field of adult lifelong education, prompted by the journal’s fortieth anniversary. In this editorial we provide a brief account of this celebration and its rationale, but also devote attention to the origins and early years of the journal itself. This involves reporting some recollections of two of the three men who edited the journal over its first sixteen years. It also involves reflecting on some notable developments, ‘turns’ and events in the academic field of adult education during that period, and the journal’s relationship to them. We then introduce the contents of the special issue itself: five articles and two review essays that draw on and analyse aspects of the work published in the journal over four decades. Finally, we reflect briefly on the journal’s aims, and the challenges of keeping them alive.
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