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[POSTPONED – New date TBC] Building Flourishing Communities: Strategies and good practice for promoting staff wellbeing in HE


This conference will be hosted by Bristol Institute for Learning and Teaching at the University of Bristol. 

This conference is for anyone interested in enhancing the experiences of staff working in higher education – both academic and professional staff – through the application of innovative practices at all levels in higher education. At the conference you will have the opportunity to hear current research and good practice regarding the wellbeing of staff in higher education and connect with like-minded colleagues/change agents wishing to address the question of how can we support staff wellbeing.

Key speakers include: Professor Gail Kinman- University of Bedfordshire; Fabienne Vailes- University of Bristol and Vida Douglas- University of Hertfordshire.  To be confirmed: UUK(TBC) and Dr Diana Beech, Policy Advisor to the Minister of State of Innovation, Science, Research and Innovation (TBC)

The conference will be split across the following themes: 1) Good practice to support staff wellbeing; 2) Research to enhance understanding of staff wellbeing; 3) Practical session to build flourishing communities in HE

We are seeking conference submission(presentation/workshops) for the above themes. Deadlines for your expression of interest (Abstract of 300 words max) is 29th May 2019 and you can access the form via the following link

 Feedback on your submissions will be provided by 3rd June 2019.  If you would like to contribute to this conference, please don’t forget to submit your abstract expression of interest here

Draft Programme

10.00-10.30   Conference Registration

10.30-10.45   Conference Aim and Purpose: TBA and member from conference planning group

10.45- 11.15   Enabling Flourishing communities and institutions in HE: Fabienne Vailes

11.15-11.45   Staff wellbeing in higher education and how can it be supported? A model for wellbeing in HE: Vida Douglas

11.45- 12.00   Comfort break

12.00- 1.00   Parallel Sessions- Presentations/Workshops covering three themes: 1) Good practice to support staff wellbeing; 2) Research to enhance understanding of staff wellbeing; 3) Practical session to build flourishing communities in HE

1.00-2.00 Lunch (Grab a bag)- posters, networking, mindful walking in gardens

2.00-2.40 Keynote presentations x 2 – Gail Kinman and another speaker (TBC)

2.45-3.45 Parallel Sessions- Presentations/Workshops covering three themes: 1) Good practice to support staff wellbeing; 2) Research to enhance understanding of staff wellbeing; 3) Practical session to build flourishing communities in HE

3.50- 4.30 Final Session (plenary) – Panel (Main Speakers and Rapporteurs) = main themes from the conference, next steps: Panel Chair TBC.  

4.30 End

The conference has  been supported by a planning committee, consisting of colleagues from Universities and Organisations supporting higher education. The conference convener is Vida Douglas, Professional Lead Social work at University of Hertfordshire.

Please contact Vida Douglas for more information about the event or to discuss any of the above.

Photo of Boaventura de SousaSantos

Epistemic Justice and the Future of the Democratic University (Public Lecture)

This is a public lecture followed by drinks reception.

Public universities are at a crossroads. An epochal struggle is unfolding between the top-down demand for academic capitalism and the bottom-up demand for democratic and intercultural responsibility. Unless the latter demand prevails, the public university will be disfigured beyond recognition in the coming decades. What are the conditions for renegotiating its hegemony under the current conditions? Which are the allies for such renegotiation? Which probable new design will be emerging?

Biography – Boaventura de Sousa Santos is Professor of Sociology, University of Coimbra (Portugal), and Distinguished Legal Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned an LL.M and J.S.D. from Yale University and holds the Degree of Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa, by McGill University. He has written and published widely on the issues of globalization, sociology of law and the state, epistemology, social movements and the World Social Forum. His most recent project – ALICE: Leading Europe to a New Way of Sharing the World Experiences – was funded by an Advanced Grant of the European Research Council (ERC), one of the most prestigious and highly competitive international financial institutes for scientific excellence in Europe.

Bristol Institute For Learning and Teaching (BILT) and the Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship are co-hosting this event with the School of Education.

Assessment in higher education conference

Assessment in Higher Education Conference 2019

This event will be the seventh international Assessment in Higher Education conference. This research and academic development conference is a forum for critical debate of research and innovation focused on assessment and feedback practice and policy. The themes for our 2019 conference will invite a wide range of papers, practice exchanges and posters. Themed poster presentations, accompanied by a short pitch from the authors, have been a particular strength of the conference and have encouraged networking by delegates.

Keynote Speakers

Phil Dawson: Associate Professor at Deakin University

Bruce Macfarlane: Professor of Higher Education at University of Bristol

An interview with...

An interview with… Alan Emond

Alan is a highly distinguished scholar, currently working as Professor of Child Health in Bristol Medical School at the University of Bristol. Alan has worked on many high-profile studies, including work on the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC – Children of the Nineties). He is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy, with teaching interests in inter-professional learning and international health. 

You recently won the James Spence medal for contribution to the advancement of paediatric knowledge – can you tell us a little bit about why you won the medal?

The James Spence medal is the highest award given by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and is awarded for outstanding contribution to the science of paediatrics.  The citation for my medal highlighted my extensive and wide-ranging research work into child health in the community, my work overseas and my commitment to interdisciplinary teaching and learning.  I have had a 40-year career in academic paediatrics, and have undertaken research into a range of issues affecting babies, children and young people. I was pleased to win the medal because of the recognition it gives to the importance of scientific research into community child health.

How your research work fed into your teaching?

I have been very privileged to have a job which has enabled me to combine clinical paediatrics with research and teaching, and strongly believe that each aspect informs the other. Contact with children and families as a paediatrician keeps you humble and grounded and highlights what is important for the public, and what is not fully understood in medical sciences. Clinical practice determines research questions, and research informs teaching. I am committed to practising and teaching evidence-based medicine, and utilise research from a wide range of sources (as well as my own research) in my teaching. We need the doctors of the future to be evidence-based practitioners, who apply scientific evidence in a personalised way to meet an individual patient’s needs.

Can you tell us a little more about the work you do around inter-professional learning?

In my opinion inter-professional learning is essential for students and trainees who are going to work in the health service, which relies on multi-disciplinary teamwork. Learning together, as both undergraduates and postgraduate students, helps students from different professional backgrounds understand each other, respect each other’s skills, and experience the team working they will participate in the future. If we want them to work together when graduated and trained, why don’t we teach them together?

I have introduced inter-professional learning modules for Bristol medical students with student children’s nurses from UWE (a joint case study of a disabled child and his family), and for Bristol medical students with final year pharmacy students from Bath University (prescribing for children workshop). Both have been evaluated by teaching fellows and published in educational journals, and were highly commended by the General Medical Council when reviewing the Bristol MB course.

A long- standing research collaboration with the School of Policy studies led to the establishment in 2006 of a unique interdisciplinary course – the intercalated BSc in Global Health. This one year programme for medical, dental and veterinary students is taught in equal amounts by academics from the social science and health science faculties, and the inter-disciplinary content is highly rated by both students and external reviewers.

What can we learn from inter-professional learning and apply to the wider university context?

Academic activity in universities is increasingly being undertaken in multi-disciplinary teams, and the University of Bristol has recognised the importance of fostering inter-disciplinary collaboration by investing in the establishment of the cross-faculty specialist research institutes. If carefully planned and managed, inter-professional learning can enable the of transfer of skills between different disciplines, the development of shared knowledge and understanding of a topic, and the acquisition of attitudes needed to promote respectful and effective collaboration.    

Similarly, how can other academic disciplines can benefit from this approach?

Any academic discipline which wants to innovate and be different from rival departments in other universities would benefit from promoting collaboration with groups from neighbouring disciplines, which will foster new approaches and generate new research questions. Inter-professional learning can be the foundation of this- for example organising topic-based seminars for undergraduate students from different departments, or running problem orientated workshops for postgraduates. In my experience, it is difficult to predict what will come out of such encounters, but some of my best collaborations and biggest grants have evolved from ‘mixing with the other tribe’ workshops.

If you could change one thing about higher education, what would it be?

In this digital age, facts are available with a few clicks of the mouse or taps on the screen. One of the traditional aims of higher education- to impart knowledge- is now less important than encouraging students to think for themselves, to be confident in weighing up the importance of different arguments and to make decisions in the context of uncertainty. Good universities recognise this, but teaching approaches and assessment methods need to evolve- to get away from concentrating on the imparting and regurgitation of facts, and aim to produce graduates with transferable skills who can think independently.

What has been the highlight of your academic career?

In 2003 I established a joint academic centre between two universities- the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England. Initially, there was considerable scepticism of the added value of such a collaboration, but with the support of the Deans in the two universities, the Centre for Child and Adolescent Health was founded to bring together academics from different disciplines working in child health. In the next 15 years, the Centre grew from strength to strength and developed an international reputation for interdisciplinary teaching and research. Both universities have subsequently re-affirmed the value and importance of this collaboration, and when I retired in 2018 I was pleased to hand over the leadership to Prof Esther Crawley from UoB and Prof Julie Mytton from UWE. (More information about this venture can be found here.)

Tell us about your favourite teacher at school/ university and why they were your favourite.

As an undergraduate medical student at Cambridge I intercalated in philosophy and religious studies, a year which had a long-lasting effect on my development as a doctor and as an academic. I was privileged to have individual supervisions with a young John Bowker, who went on to have a glittering career and to write 41 books about important topics such as suffering , death, religious conflicts and science and religion. I was very anxious about my production for these supervisions, but I left each one feeling inspired, stimulated and encouraged. I’ve tried to do the same for all my own students!

Reversing the Educational Inequality Crisis in Bristol


Open Forum to discuss the Bristol Learning City’s aim of increasing the participation rate at Post 16 and Higher Education of young people in targeted wards of the city. 

A collaboration between the University of Bristol, UWE Bristol, South Bristol Youth and Future Quest.

This is planned as a high profile event with participants from schools, FE colleges, Academy Trusts, Bristol Local Authority, local MPs, local businesses, parents and students.

The event will be organised around a discussion forum and a small number of presentations.

The main take-away messages for the event are:

  • Structural inequalities in education must change if Bristol is to become a Learning City with equal educational opportunities for all
  • Schools and stakeholders across Bristol need to work together to ensure that education and in particular Post 16 and Higher Education are equally accessible to everyone in Bristol, no matter where in the city they live.


Speaker: Judith Squires Professor of Political Theory, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students for the University of Bristol 

Speaker: Jo Midgley Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience for the University of the West of England