Away Days bring to life IFSTAL’s unique spirit. Inter-disciplinary, cross-institutional and workplace interaction in a fun and educational setting. Our first away day of ‘17/18′ held at the University of Reading focused on the number 1 valued skill cited by employers for new graduates: Communication. More specifically, “Communicating in the Food System” is especially complex due to the diversity of stakeholders and the amount of persuasion and negotiation required to effect change. We took our students on a journey of self-awareness using the Insights™ model based on Jungian principles with many a “cool blue” and “fiery red” in the room; with some great light bulb moments when looking at good day and bad day behaviours. Using these principles, the groups were then set real-life case studies supplied by our workplace friends to prepare pitch presentations for the afternoon (more on this later!). And, in true IFSTAL-style, workplace speakers gave up their afternoon to paint a picture of their roles in the food system and their career journey so far.
“Networking opportunities with fellow students and experts – learning how to efficiently leverage my skills and deliver a clear message in a food system environment” (student comment)
So, back to that song.
A campaigning ditty “Please Reuse Me” set to the tune of Englebert Humperdinck’s “Please Release Me” was the opening presentation to tackle consumer waste and certainly set the tone for the rest of the pitches. Innovative ideas for local food access and childhood obesity were supported by sharp facts and figures and big-picture visions. Public health aims to address the correlation between deprivation levels and prevalence of fast food outlets was presented with some possible solutions. Finally, the agroecology pitch shared inter-cropping and hydroponics solutions to tackle research agendas in south Asia.
“Reflecting back on this experience, I am now more mindful of several aspects of communication, not only in terms of self-awareness but also in terms of tailoring your message to your audience and all the aspects involved in the process. I am very fortunate to have been part of this experience, and I urge everyone interested in the food systems to engage in the program. It will be a unique learning experience.” (Isadora Fernandes Ferreira, University of Oxford Student)
Overall, the greatest value in our face to face events is delightfully put by one of our attendees skipping home that evening: “finding ‘my people’ “. Our Food Systems Community is growing by the day. Come join us!
Blog by Dr Rosina Borrelli, IFSTAL Workplace Engagement Lead.