As the CSC’s Virtual Engagement Programme has taken off over the past few months, Scholars, Fellows and alumni have come together and collaborated in different ways through online events, activities and networks. Scholars have been enthusiastic about engaging in virtual activities and have shown the strength of connections within the CSC community as well as their determination to achieve development impact and overcome adversity.

This has been particularly evident in the CSC’s virtual development training workshops, which are providing forums for discussion and learning on important topics in the development agenda. These workshops are designed to equip Scholars and Fellows with the tools to engage in development as researchers and practitioners, and negotiate challenges within the various fields they will enter after their scholarship programme.

Our virtual training workshops began on 29 May with a session on ‘Writing for Development’ facilitated by trainers from AccessEd. This workshop introduced Scholars to the history, theories and institutions of the development sector as well as outlining key terms and guidance on researching and writing development proposals.

Presenter and Scholar participants in a video conference with presentation slide visible.

Scholars at a virtual development training workshop in 2020

AccessEd subsequently delivered workshops on ‘Social Institutions, Social Enterprises and Impact Models’ on 2 July and ‘Preparing for Social Impact: Strategy Planning’ on 16 July, that explored the role of social organisations and the metrics of development impact in more detail. During these workshops, Scholars also had opportunities to talk about how their own work and experience related to social impact themes in regular breakout sessions and group discussions.

On 12 June we held a workshop reflecting on the Sustainable Development Goals: ‘5 Years on from the SDGs: What’s next?’ led by Dr Moizza Sarwar from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). This workshop considered the background and value of the SDGs, and whether as a framework for development the SDGs were adequate for the differing needs of the international community. During the workshop, Scholars participated in an interactive trade-off exercise, giving them an insight into the role policymakers and development actors play to bring about sustainable development.

This was followed on 26 June by a session that looked at practical approaches to galvanise support for development projects. Led by Juan Casasbuenas, formerly coordinator at SciDev.net, the ‘Public Engagement Project’ workshop unpacked ideas around sustainable development through a case study analysis that placed Scholars at the centre of the decision-making process. Through a combination of collaborative online exercises and trainer-led inputs, this workshop provided Scholars with a set of concrete tools to foster engagement among stakeholder groups in different development scenarios.

As the virtual development training workshops continue, we hope to see Scholars and Fellow improve their development skills further and are keen to hear more about their strategies for achieving impact in the future.

We are looking forward to delivering a full programme of virtual development training workshops in the forthcoming academic year and are excited to engage with Scholars on themes around development and training in 2020-21.