Headshot of James E. Hoxeng

Jim Hoxeng passed away in August 2013. 
His obituary can be found Here.


Jim arrived at CIE in the fall of 1968 as one of the founding members of the Center.  He was instrumental in introducing CIE to the concept of nonformal education which was a new idea in the early 1970s. He helped organized a trip to a conference in Washington D.C. where Paulo Freire and Ivan Illich were featured speakers.


Contacts made with the speakers at that conference led to a series of visits to CIE and UMass by both Freire and Illich. Jims’ belief in the value of nonformal education (NFE) was instrumental in the development of CIE’s decade-long involvement with NFE, first in Ecuador and subsequently in a number of other countries. Jim was the field coordinator for CIE’s NFE project in Ecuador where many of the core tenets of NFE were first tested in local contexts.  


His commitment to the principles of NFE were so strong that after completing all the requirements for his doctorate, he refused to accept the degree, viewing it as a symbol of formal education.  The chancellor of UMass at the time said that he respected Jim’s decision and that UMass would hold the degree in case Jim decided to accept it later.


After leaving CIE, Jim worked for more than 30 years as an International Education Specialist in USAID’s Global Bureau/Center for Human Capacity Development supervising education projects all over the world. He continued his advocacy for NFE and participatory approaches to development in various USAID projects. Among other projects he was one of the USAID supervisors for the Basic and Policy Support Activity (BEPS).


Jim pioneered the use of games as an educational tool, especially in combination with literacy programs in poor, rural areas. He developed Hacienda – a board game based on Monopoly that was used to stimulate discussion and awareness of oppressive conditions in rural communities of the Sierra region of Ecuador.  Also known as the Juego de la Vida, the game created a safe setting in which participants could discuss the oppressive structures that affected their community and ways they could take action to improve their lives.


He was also the co-author of numerous other CIE publications on NFE that documented the use of games in NFE including Tabacundo: Battery-Powered Dialogue (downloads a pdf) which described the use of cassette tape recorders as a feedback and programming technique that was used to document discussions and sometimes to confront politic leaders.


Jim’s dissertation, Let Jorge Do It: An Approach to Rural Nonformal Education (downloads a pdf) analyzes the experience of CIE’s NFE project in Ecuador. The title reflects the belief and commitment to letting ordinary people take charge of their own development.  The project demonstrated that literacy training combined with dialogue can be conducted by local citizens without extensive training and that simple, participatory games can help participants conceptualize forces affecting their lives, change their behavior toward authority figures, and undertake development activities. [9-13]


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