Foresight and Collaboration Leadership Workshop

Jun 7 - 8, 2018

In June, 2018, a2ru hosted a two-day Leadership Workshop on Foresight and Collaboration, foregrounding issues germane to those engaged in interdisciplinary collaboration. Building on the successes and lessons of our Leadership Workshop on Tenure and Promotion, a2ru welcomed twenty-five participants from research universities across the country to this hands-on workshop on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

For the Collaboration Workshop, we used data from our interviews at 38 research universities to surface characteristics of effective collaboration. These insights became the foundation of the workshop. Then, we designed a recursive framework in which collaboration was both a topic for exploration and the workshop’s operative mode of practice. With expert facilitation, participants worked together in small groups, alternating between active collaboration and guided reflection. This process allowed them to assess the effectiveness of their collaborative styles, and immediately put these insights into practice.

Each small group addressed a particular area of concern around interdisciplinary collaboration such as Building Supportive Institutional Structures, Developing Courses and Curricula, Fostering Relationships and Igniting Collaboration, and Promoting Diverse Ways of Knowing. The challenge for all the groups was to illuminate their topics through a hands-on, “maker” process.

In addition to its experiential aspects, the workshop provided participants with expert insights into the topics at hand. a2ru’s whitepaper on interdisciplinary collaboration offered frameworks from our research, while short presentations on renegotiation strategies helped participants navigate the often complicated interpersonal dynamics of collaboration.

Participants applied both theoretical and practical insights to their group projects, creating a range of experiences, from magic gardens to an escape room challenge with video feed to “convivial pursuit.” Feedback on the workshop was enthusiastic, with reports of returning to home institutions with new information, skills, and perspectives.