On the last day of summer school, the groups rose admirably to the food systems challenges set at the beginning of the week, as Louise Whatford, IFSTAL Education Coordinator, explains.
The final day had arrived and the summer school was rounded off with five super presentations from the case study groups!
The summer school participants had been set real-life questions to answer from a range of companies and industries including: the Sustainable Restaurant Association, the British Meat Processors Association, Sainsburys, PEPSICO and Global Food Security.
The briefs addressed a variety of topics: the role of small to medium enterprises in delivering food system transformation; innovation of products to improve nutrition for Africa; a successful business case for a balanced and sustainable diet; how red meat could be promoted as part of a nutritional balanced diet and what does a restorative business look like in a circular food economy.
Drawing together a week of learning
The participants drew on their knowledge of systems thinking, and used the techniques they had been exposed to during the summer school to present their findings to their fellow participants. Each group had five minutes to pitch their idea to tackle the challenge, followed by a further ten minutes to reflect on how they had, as a group, come to those conclusions, the process they followed and any lessons they had learnt from working in an interdisciplinary team environment.
All the groups successfully responded to the questions, delivering their message using a variety of methods including radio shows, off-setting advertising schemes, videos and case studies. The quality of work was outstanding; it was so interesting to see the different ways the groups had applied their knowledge and tackled the challenging question they were set. It was apparent that not only had the participants learnt more about the topic they were researching throughout the week but had also recognised the importance of being able to work in multi-disciplinary teams, the benefits this brings and the skills needed to achieve this successfully.
Skills for change
The number of questions and comments from the audience to each group really showed how the range of approaches and question topics sparked enthusiasm in the summer school participants. We then heard from Alisdair Wotherspoon, IFSTAL Advisory Group Chair, who summarised the morning events, exclaiming how proud the participants should be of themselves and the importance of learning from group dynamics, personal growth and self-evaluation. Also that it is important to identify skills in others as well as the gaps in group knowledge. He ended by saying that all the skills they have been taught in IFSTAL are transferable and urged them to “go out there and change the world!”
Rosina Borelli, IFSTAL Workplace Engagement Lead followed by providing insight for the participants into how to articulate the IFSTAL experience and summed up how to reflect on career skills. John Ingram closed the week, commenting on the lessons and skills learnt throughout the IFSTAL year as well as at this year’s summer school.
It was a wonderful way to end a successful IFSTAL summer school!