Workshop 4 roundup

The final IFSTAL workshop in Year Four took place in Oxford on 16 March, drawing students from the collaborating institutions to the City of Dreaming Spires.

The aim of the day was to introduce and practice the Theory of Change, a method commonly used in organisations seeking to make and evaluate change. This framework is often used in the NGO and government sectors. The theme built on the previous workshops and provides a useful framework to practice and critique.

Rebecca Wells and Annabel de Frece, education coordinators at City University of London led the sessions, starting with a short icebreaker that required the students to reflect on what they had hoped to get out of IFSTAL; what their actual experiences have been like and how they think they will use their learning from the programme. Students had to post their comments on the wall and after a hubbub of activity, the wall was filled with colourful Post-Its revealing the students’ expectations and experiences.


Theory of Change in action


Introducing Theory of Change

Then it was on to the main theme of the day: Theory of Change and why it can be an effective tool. As a framework,Theory of Change creates a common understanding of the work, surfacing any differences; it can be used for monitoring, evaluation and learning throughout a programme cycle. Theory of Change also supports organisational development in line with core focus and priorities and it also empowers people to become more active and involved in programmes.

As always there was an element of groupwork. The students set about creating a project for which they had to develop a Theory of Change model, choosing one goal: to reduce sugar consumption in the university, reduce food waste in the university or increase sustainable food production in the university. The session required the students to work in teams to to set clear goals and aims, get buy-in across all stakeholders and set out how they would measure and track progress and successes. The presentations to the room revealed the pros and cons of the framework, with many students reflecting on how they would like to pull other frameworks they had learned through IFSTAL in to the planning stage.

Food sustainability in action

After a delicious lunch provided by Waste2Taste, a local catering company with a vision towards a vibrant, healthy and sustainable food culture that reduces food waste using high quality food surplus, the afternoon was devoted to workplace speakers. We welcomed an impressive and varied range of professionals working in the food system, all happy to share insights and answer questions

Francesca Carnibella of Oxfam, right, shares her work insights with an IFSTAL student

Each speaker had the opportunity to explain their (often varied) pathways to their current role. This was followed by round

tables, where the students had the opportunity to ask questions and find out more about the world of work in the food systems. These valuable sessions provide IFSTAL students with the chance to network and consider wider career pathways, coming away with new ideas and inspiration. The students gave the speakers food for thought too, asking searching questions and eager to learn more about the challenges and realities of the food industry.

Before wrapping up the session for farewell drinks, Rebecca Wells reminded the students that this was the final event before the Summer School, which takes place in Reading in July. Feedback from the students was positive as always, while the wall of Post-It notes bearing students’ intentions to move forwards with their new knowledge, was another positive legacy of Year Four.