Mission and Philosophy

The mission of the Folk Education Association of America is to identify, support, and facilitate community-based, learner-led education as a strategic tool for community organizing.
We use the term people’s education as an umbrella to include the many traditions of peer education that allow community members to work together to critically analyze oppressive systems, build a knowledge base, and apply this knowledge to create alternative possibilities for institutions that shape our lives. We believe that this democratic method of analysis and action should be one basis of organizing, and we focus our work on supporting this education. This process entails “participants,” “learners,” or “constituents” being seen as leaders, collectively finding ways to use their voices and actions for social change. People’s education, by its nature, is applied research that grows directly out of people’s real life situations.

Rather than focusing on a single issue area, our work seeks to support this type of political education as a tool in a range of community initiatives, including increased economic equality, workers’ rights, work against racism and sexism, as well as alternatives to environmental degradation, environmental racism, militarism, and the weakening power of people’s voices in the face of unaccountable politicians and corporations.

Board of Directors

Jennifer Escobar, Chairperson
Director of the Berea Festival Dancers and folk singer (Berea, KY)
Mary Cattani, Vice-Chairperson
Former Director of the Scandinavian Seminar (Amherst, MA)
Chris Spicer, Treasurer
Founder & Director of The Integral Guesthouse; contract instructor with Labor/Management Workplace Education Program (UMass /Amherst, MA)
Dawn Murphy, Secretary
Marie Fielder Center for Democracy, Leadership, and Education Fellow, Fielding Graduate University (Olympia, WA)
Marilyn Jackson, Board Member
Western Institute for Social Research (Berkely, CA)
Kimberly Coburn, Board Member
Founder & Executive Director of The Homestead Atlanta (Atlanta, GA)
Geraldine Johnson, Board Member
Founder & Creative Director of Aspire Artisan Studios & Folk School (Waconia, MN)

Honorary Founders

Kay (Kathryn) Parke                 John Ramsay
1916 – 2013                              University City, MO

FEAA Founders

Kay wrote these inspiring words in an issue of our journal OPTION (1994):

The love that an educator exercises must contain genuine respect toward others, and a healthy humility about oneself. Not easy to achieve. It requires lifelong study, practice, and alertness. It requires lifelong learning that is lifted by the heart.

and following, is a note from John (April, 2016):

Dear friends,

N. F. S. Grundtvig has been my hero ever since I attended a 1972 Danish centennial celebration of his death.  Awakening, enlivening, enlightening became my teaching strategy—as well as no exams.  How could I test students when so many answers dissolved into more questions, especially in a changing world?

And now we see rapid change.  The ice is melting before our eyes.  Are we humans smart enough to discipline ourselves to live on this planet?  Are we the ultimate of God’s creation?

Grundtvig envisioned that God is not yet done with creation.  Life, he saw, was God’s experiment in how spirit and dust could intermingle and develop.  The question is, are we humans going to be a success in this experiment of living or will we go the way of the countless species which failed the test?  Are we smart enough to answer that question?  That is the goal of folk schools!

John M Ramsay, University City MO