The Science

"Books@Work is committed to bringing the highest quality of learning to adults in the workplace and in the community."

Karen Nestor

Organizational Learning Scholar & Board Member, Books@Work

"Grounded in the most current scholarship on effective adult learning, organizational dynamics and narrative theory, we engage in qualitative and quantitative research that allows us to determine program outcomes, improve the Books@Work experience and contribute to a deeper understanding of how adults learn and grow. We partner with scholars and practitioners who share our commitment to diverse and enriching learning experiences."

Rethinking Contemporary Workplace Learning

Workplace learning is as much about experience, intuition and inspiration as it is about technical and job-specific skills. Grounded in science, Books@Work creates the low-risk platform to examine and challenge the human condition through a wide variety of lenses.

Books@Work is an inquiry-based approach to engaging individuals at work and in the community. The text provides an initial context, a point-of-view and an invitation to explore personal and collective narratives occasioned by the story. The literature is at once a catalyst and a pressure valve, provoking conversation while providing a safe space in which to retreat.

Books@Work is NOT about teaching. Sessions are open-ended opportunities for learning and amplifying individual voices  – across diverse perspectives, cultures, educational levels and roles. When we prioritize questions over answers, we give individuals and teams the tools to tackle the wicked problems of the 21st-century workplace.

A participant in a manufacturing company recently brought these ideas to life:

“I just think that every employer everywhere should say, ‘Wait a minute, I want my employees learning all the time and I don’t care how they’re learning or what they’re learning because eventually that learning will help us.’ As long as you have a workforce that’s learning and growing and expanding their knowledge, it will benefit [everyone]. . . The act of learning is essential to everything we do.”

The Science

The Books@Work Learning Principles

Adult Learning

The interplay of cognition, emotion and social interaction are at the heart of learning.


Literary, personal and collective narratives are of equal value as they emerge over time.


Flexible preparation and nimble facilitation supports participants as they take ownership of the conversation and practice engaging with one another.

Openness & Psychological Safety

Open-minded listening and dialogue promote mutual understanding and the psychological safety necessary for high-performing workplaces.


Active reflection enhances observation, deepens understanding and provides the groundwork for new perspectives.

Mutual Recognition

The process causes participants to mutually recognize their individual value and the unique contributions they offer.

High-Quality Connections

Through active engagement, participants build mutual positive regard and trust, feeling open, competent, alive and valued.


Listening to others’ viewpoints challenges participants to examine their own assumptions and change their perspectives.


Gaining deeper understanding together enables individual and collective growth and development.

For more information about the scientific principles behind our work, visit our blog. We feature in-depth posts by staff members, participants, professors and more.