In November, the CSC hosted the opening sessions of the Leaders in Sustainable Development programme 2021-22 with workshops on Writing for Development (11 November) and Leadership Models and Decision Making (25 November).

The workshops were led by trainers from AccessEd, a non-profit organisation that promotes fair access to university for all young people and works with researchers across the world, training them to focus on outreach and public engagement skills, career readiness, and leadership development.

Both sessions adopted a blended learning approach, which is being trialled this year to provide more time for Scholar-led discussion during workshops. Participants were asked to watch a pre-recorded lecture in advance of the session and be prepared to discuss the ideas and themes it raised with fellow participants in group discussions and breakout rooms during the workshop.

Understanding the purposes and context of development research

In the Writing for Development workshop, Scholars were introduced to key concepts and principles in international development and explored how they apply to research, both in academia and in the development sector. During the workshop, Scholars discussed the main actors and institutions in international development today and drew on their own experience to inform the conversations.

Following an initial group discussion on what is meant by development led by the AccessEd trainer Katie Booth, Scholars discussed how their research related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and spent time identifying which of the SDGs were most relevant to their current research and studies.

The Scholars also talked about which stakeholders were essential to achieving their desired SDGs and the impact that different stakeholders could have in successfully implementing their research projects.

During the discussion, CSC Commissioner Professor Madeleine Arnot, who was attending as an additional facilitator, outlined the importance of understanding different audiences and advised Scholars to consider how they would prioritise different types of target audience when framing their research through the SDGs.

There was also a discussion about language faux pas in the context of writing for development purposes; Scholars talked about the different faux pas they had encountered in their different country contexts and why they felt these were problematic.

The AccessEd trainer ended the session by highlighting the importance of collaboration and early engagement in academic scholarship and development writing. Scholars were also given top tips on how to engage with development research and incorporate this into their communication.

Becoming a good leader, developing an individual style

In the Leadership Models and Decision Making workshop, Scholars were introduced to different leadership styles and discussed how to apply them either in formal leadership roles or in general professional or research settings. The workshop also supported Scholars to develop their own leadership style through a Situational Leadership Style self-assessment and scenario-based group tasks where they could practise different leadership techniques.

During the main discussion, the AccessEd trainer Nicola Vermooten and Scholars talked about the various types of leadership style and the merits and disadvantages of each in different scenarios. Reflecting on their own preferred leadership style as revealed by the Situational Leadership Style self-assessment, Scholars discussed when this might be particularly effective to use in certain professional or research contexts.

Scholars also focused on leadership pitfalls such as not setting clear objectives and avoiding conflict and discussed how negative situations could arise from not addressing these pitfalls. As part of a breakout room activity, Scholars explored the G.R.O.W. model (Goal, Reality, Options, Way forward) and considered situations where this model could be used within a leadership role to support others in making decisions and provide coaching.

The workshop concluded with key advice from the AccessEd trainer on how Scholars could best develop their individual leadership style as researchers and within other professional contexts.

Thank you to all the Scholars who attended these workshops and to our training providers from AccessEd for delivering the sessions.

Form more information about upcoming workshops in the Leaders in Sustainable Development programme 2021-22, please visit the CSC events page.