In April, the CSC held the first residential workshop of 2022 for Commonwealth Master’s and Shared Scholars. The Maximising your Impact: training for development workshop took place between Friday 1 April and Sunday 3 April 2022 at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park as part of the CSC’s Leaders in Sustainable Development programme.

The three-day workshop provided an intensive programme of sessions with a focus on current international development issues and how, as agents of change, Scholars can contribute towards solving them. We welcomed 44 Commonwealth Scholars over the weekend, along with 5 members of the CSC Secretariat, and two CSC Commissioners, Dr Catherine Mackenzie, a barrister and legal academic at the University of Oxford, and Emma Judge, an international development consultant and former CEO of Sound Seekers, the Commonwealth Society for the Deaf.

An invaluable networking opportunity

The residential workshop began on Friday evening with an icebreaker activity organised by some of the CSC’s current Regional Network Coordinators and a poster session where Scholars discussed their current academic studies and plans for development impact after their scholarship. Following on from this, Scholars had the chance to informally network and find out more about the experiences of fellow Scholars during the evening.

Networking was a key part of the workshop experience, and Scholars enjoyed getting to know one another during various fun activities organised throughout the weekend, including a crossword challenge and a guided walk around the grounds of Windsor Great Park.

Responding to the challenges of the future

On Saturday, Scholars discussed how they would achieve development impact as individuals and in groups from their own country perspective as well as looking at how to apply their skills to communicate impact against specific development objectives. During these sessions, Scholars were able to practise using their teamworking and presentation skills, both of which are critical for impact communication.

There were three plenary sessions held on the Saturday which focused on integrating the SDGs into research and practice; maximising leadership and impact using the Theory of Change model; and building a narrative through public engagement. The plenary sessions were delivered by AccessEd, a non-profit organisation that promotes fair access to university for all young people and supports researchers across the world on outreach and public engagement skills, career readiness, and leadership development.

Throughout the plenary sessions, Scholars were encouraged to talk about global issues in respect to their home country and make connections and links between the Global Goals in terms of problems and solutions. Furthermore, during the session on Theory of Change, Scholars were able to develop a robust framework for approaching social impact and change as well as evaluating the success of potential development interventions. In the final session on public engagement, Scholars worked on harnessing their social impact narrative and using leadership tools to support them in the development journey.

Reflecting on the workshop

On the final day of the workshop, Scholars spent the morning working in groups and using the skills they had learned on the previous day. Scholars had the opportunity to present their development impact narrative and plans for future work to the group as well as discussing how their approach to this had changed during the workshop.

“Before this workshop, I faced difficulties in explaining to people what my research was all about. Now, I am confident and ready to talk about my research with a much broader audience. The activities associated with Theory of Change helped me develop a clear plan of action.” – 2021 Commonwealth Scholar from India

Reflecting on the weekend, CSC Commissioner Emma Judge thanked the “host of impressive Scholars” who joined the workshop and showed such a “high level of engagement and participation throughout”. Emma also commended the residential workshop for the valuable contribution it made “to the Scholar journey and ongoing engagement with the CSC”.

Meanwhile, Scholars reflected on how motivating it was to hear from others about their personal stories and these inspired them to bring about positive change in their countries. Aside from the workshop activities, Scholars relished the opportunity to learn about different cultural backgrounds and reconnect with nature during the visit to Windsor Great Park.

Take a look at the photos from the weekend on the CSC Flickr channel.