Shut up, and listen

October 20, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Fellowship 

This is a guest blog from Pete Burden, following the event The role of men in supporting women into leadership, organised by RSA Brighton and Hove.

I recently attended an RSA and University of Brighton event on the question ‘What is the role of men in supporting women into leadership?‘ This was a follow-up to a larger event a few months back entitled ‘How women lead‘. That was a great session, with a lot of energy. Creating a follow-up must have seemed a very logical next step.

All the panelists seemed to agree that there is a problem: there are not enough women in leadership positions – in both public and private sectors. And as Simon Fanshawe, OBE, pointed out ‘complex problems require difference and diversity’. Many of our most significant problems today, from the social to the environmental to the economic are complex problems, problems that require different ways of thinking and acting.

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Four reasons why Latin America is ahead on crowdfunding

October 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Fellowship 

Here at the RSA, we want to increase the power to create; our belief that all should have the freedom and power to turn their ideas into reality. Crowdfunding is a technology that helps people to get funding to launch their ideas. So I thought I’d share how four variations of crowdfunding technology are being used to launch ideas:

  1. beyond “£x0,000 pledged from x,000 backers so far” and “Joe Bloggs backed us”
  2. corporate social responsibility made easy
  3. we know crowdfunding can be used to help make films, but it can also make audiences too
  4. crowdsourcing crowdfunding (what do these words even mean??!).

Read more

Defining Engagement

October 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Fellowship 

engage pitchThe number one ask from Fellows is connecting and networking with Fellows.  Building on this the Regional team has been developing the RSA Engage series.  During 2015 we will deliver over 40 Engage events across the UK from Falmouth to Glasgow, Norwich to Dublin.  The series provides two types of activity:

Engage - targeted for larger audiences between 50-150

Connect - targeted at smaller groups of 20-30

Both Engage and Connect fuse together project-showcasing combined with structured networking. Essential for the project pitches is a core ask from Fellows, outlining their specific needs for help and support. Feedback from Fellows has been extremely positive with attendees enjoying the balance between the networking and opportunities to get involved in different projects. The series also offers attendees an increased understanding of the RSA’s charitable mission of finding practical solutions to social challenges.

engage networkingStaff will be delivering the series as core way to engage and network across the Fellowship. The Engage format has been developed through events in Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham and London. Upcoming locations for the series include Sheffield, Edinburgh, Newcastle Gateshead and Nottingham, as well as continuing regular Engage activity in London.  This autumn we are developing the RSA Connect format which is aimed at smaller numbers focused on one or two projects, similar to Engage but on a smaller scale. Locations for Connect include Falmouth, Liverpool, Cheltenham and Exeter. The events take place where we have recognised clusters of Fellows and good transport links.

The Engage series will complement existing regional activity and provide a strong event framework and planned calendar of events across the UK, reaching as many Fellows as possible. With each event there will be tailored follow up on individual projects,  ideas, introductions and connections.

Our overall aims and objectives for the programme are:

Connect: providing structured networking sessions

Inform: outline RSA activity, projects and routes to engagement using 4 ways to engage

Inspire: demonstrate how the RSA enriches society through ideas and action

How can Fellows help or get involved?  You can volunteer to pitch at a future Engage event; please get in touch. The Engage series thrives on Fellows looking to share their stories and identify the help they need. We are keen to hear from Fellows and organisations who are seeking advice from the Fellowship and Fellows involved in venues that can provide RSA Spaces.

Whether you attend as a participant or a pitcher we look forward to meeting you at a future Engage event and exploring how you can help support and develop the work of the RSA. Email if you would like to get involved or simply find out more.


Vivs Long-Ferguson

Head of Regions


From Eggs to Education: why diversity allows the flock to flourish

October 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Fellowship 

In the most recent RSA Journal, I read with interest the piece on competition by Margaret Heffernan – particularly, the part that describes an experiment designed to engineer a ‘super flock’ of golden-egg180x180hens. To see whether increased competition would create higher levels of production, geneticist William Muir pulled the top egg-producing hens out of a regular flock and put them together. After just two generations of this new flock, the results were remarkable – six of the super hens had been pecked to death by the remaining three, whilst the original flock was performing better than ever.

This experiment suggests that if you only value the so-called ‘cream of the crop’ you are probably missing a trick or two. Societies need variety and balance in order to function healthily – you simply can’t have everybody doing the same thing, no matter how valuable it is deemed.

The article got me thinking about our education system and the levels of competition and selection. My own experience saw my peers divided into two camps at age 11: clever, and not so clever. Even for those who weren’t required to take the dreaded 11+, academic pressure remains a dominant feature of school life. Certainly, an element of competition can be motivating, but just as the ‘cream’ ought not to be scooped off the top and isolated at their own expense, nor should the rest feel their particular strengths have no value to society.

Many of the RSA Fellows I’ve met over the past year have been teachers, and all were unequivocally passionate about the difference a good education can have on the trajectory of a person’s life. Whatever the challenges in the classroom might be, Fellows have a wealth of ideas about where improvements can be made that will potentially transform the confidence of their students.

One such teacher is Jo Taylor FRSA, who, having participated in Teach First’s leadership programme, has gone on to co-found Wall Display – an education project which has recently applied for an RSA Catalyst grant.

“As a teacher I saw how much of a difference an engaged parent could make to their child’s aspirations. I also saw how hard it was for parents to be involved in their child’s education. I wanted to create a way for them to see the great things their children were doing.”

With children from disadvantaged schools, parental disengagement can be a big problem because if the parent had a bad experience at school themselves, they may be less inclined to encourage their children to participate. Many of these parents may have become disengaged because they did not perform well in exams, and with the continual emphasis on exams and grades, it’s increasingly important for teachers to find ways to celebrate the diversity of students’ skills and ensure they do not become disenchanted with learning altogether.

Wall Display has addressed this issue by creating an online platform for teachers to share their pupils’ work in such a way that it displays the creativity and individuality of the work whilst pushing it beyond the boundaries of the classroom.

“Students can get really demotivated producing amazing work which nobody ever sees, the idea is that Wall Display provides them with an audience for what they do in school.”

The public can award badges to work they like

The public can award badges to work they like

When teachers post work from students, members of the general public can give badges to work they like and other teachers can offer feedback.

I think this responsive aspect of the project is critical because if your teacher does not like your work, it might feel like theirs is the only opinion that counts. Wall Display’s strength is that it allows an array of opinions to reach the students – an experience which is far more representative of life after school.

Jo spoke about the progress of the project at a recent RSA Engage event, and asked other Fellows to get involved in the following ways:

- Do you know a teacher or school who might like to use Wall Display?
- Do you know anyone who works for Ofsted or an education body?
- Do you know any business leaders who are passionate about education?

If you’d like to know more about Wall Display, help Jo or get involved then you can contact him at, or find out more on their website:

The RSA has partnered with Teach First for seven years, and we are able to offer a reduced rate of Fellowship for all Teach First participants – contact Alex Barker for more information.

RSA Live-streaming: GTA University Centre

This is a guest blog from the team at GTA University Centre, Guernsey who have been live-streaming RSA events and lectures on a regular basis.   RSA EVENTS

Many of the RSA events are live-streamed, aiming to reach those unable to make the regular trip to London. A great example of an organisation that uses this feature is the GTA University Centre, a not-for-profit training provider based in Guernsey, who regularly overcome the distance barrier and bring the RSA to their local community. Marketing Manager, Duncan Spencer, tells us about his experience.

“Guernsey may be a small island but it has a diverse economy and does business on an international scale, and we have found that there is a real desire to hear the latest ideas in business, technology and societal development.”

GTA began hosting livestream events from the RSA at the beginning of this year as a means of introducing new ideas to the Island’s community. We aim to provide opportunities for Guernsey audiences to listen to high quality, innovative and educational speakers and participate in a lively discussion on the subject, but with a local focus. RSA livestream programmes are available to all online, but we believe we can add extra value by bringing people together to share the experience and enjoy a stimulating debate and discussion prompted by the RSA speaker and the Q&As. Read more

The role of men in supporting women into leadership

October 2, 2014 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Fellowship 

This blog was originally posted on the College of Arts & Humanities, University of Brighton, blog. Read the original post. This comes in advance of next week’s event run by RSA Brighton and Hove. Find out more or and book your place at the event.

What role should men play in supporting more women into leadership?

Following on from the success of RSA Brighton and Hove’s recent How Women Lead event, this follow-up talk is chaired by CEO of Brighton & Hove City Council Penny Thompson CBE. A deliberately-chosen all-male panel will contribute their views and take audience questions in this lively debate.

Contributing their views and taking audience questions in this lively debate are:

  • Simon Fanshawe OBE, writer and broadcaster
  • Michael Edwards, CEO, Albion in the Community
  • Giles York, Chief Constable, Sussex Police
  • Richard Upton, CEO, Cathedral Group
  • James Rowlands, Brighton & Hove Violence against Women Commissioner.

This event is open to both Fellows and non-Fellows and the bar is open from 6.30pm to 9.30pm – book your place now. You can follow the event on Twitter using the hashtag #howwomenlead. This event is organised by Brighton and Hove RSA in partnership with the University of Brighton College of Arts and Humanities.

What role should men play in supporting more women into leadership? Pre-event Q&A

“Structures are in place to enable women to succeed, however, we sometimes struggle to hold the managers to account to ensure they abide by the structures with creating a flexible working place that accommodates different needs at different times.”

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The Big Idea: National Saturday Club

Support the UK’s next creative generation

This is a guest blog from the team at National Saturday Club. They’re looking for Fellows in the design, architecture and engineering industries who may be able to offer masterclasses, visits or creative career guidance, as well as Fellows who can introduce young people to their cultural institutions.

The National Art & Design Saturday Club provides young people aged 14-16 with the unique opportunity to study art and design every Saturday morning at their local college or university for free. Now in its sixth year, the Saturday Club runs in 41 locations across the UK, in colleges, universities and at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Read more

Building the Social Enterprises of Tomorrow

September 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Enterprise, Fellowship, Innovation 

dataEmma Cheshire FRSA
Emma Cheshire is a Fellow of The RSA and also Programme Director for Dotforge Social Ventures Accelerator.  Read about the DotForge accelerator programme and find out how you can get involved.

Can you see a social challenge that can be solved using technology? Have you been itching to use smart software platforms to make other people’s lives better? Do you have a social venture, charity or voluntary organisation that could help more people if you built your own digital product?

The RSA, working in partnership with Dotforge accelerator and Key Fund have developed a pilot accelerator and incubator to support social entrepreneurs in building digital products and services designed to address social challenges. Read more

How to join the MOOC education revolution: a new free way to learn/create together with other RSA Fellows

September 19, 2014 by · 9 Comments
Filed under: Fellowship 


“The collaborative learning process took our Fellows to places where they delighted in connecting with people of diverse experience and expertise, sparked new ways of thinking about topics and gained the sorts of insights that led to genuine revelations”
- Peter Clitheroe FRSA (RSA East of England regional team)

East of England Fellows working on their Human Centred Design MOOC

East of England Fellows working on their Human Centred Design MOOC

The emergence of MOOCs (‘Massive Open Online Courses’) – where tens of thousands of people can learn online together, mostly for free – has taken the education world by storm. Coursera, a MOOC provider, has 7m+ users. But it was when Stanford University’s artificial intelligence Mooc, announced in July 2011, attracted 160,000 sign-ups that it became clear a powerful new phenomenon was emerging.

“It has been an effective key-turner for our local network by giving a real purpose to working together on a specific, focused and time-bound project”
- Peter Clitheroe FRSA

RSA Fellows are increasingly finding MOOCs to be a great way to come together both to learn and to work on real-world projects collaboratively.

For example three Fellow groups in the East of England region recently enjoyed taking part in ‘Human Centred Design for Social Innovation’, a free MOOC put together with the leading Design/Innovation agency,

Enjoying the +Acumen Human-Centred Design MOOC in Sao Paulo

Enjoying the +Acumen Human-Centred Design MOOC in Sao Paulo

The Fellows’ groups chose these real-world challenges to work on together during the seven-week course:

* Enabling more young people to become social entrepreneurs – in which the team proposed new systems and devised ways to strengthen existing programmes to help young people tackle civic/social issues as a career path.
* Healthier food options for people in need – Two separate groups tackled the healthy food challenge (one of them based at Suffolk County Council). One group focused on first year university students living in self-catering flats, who were surveyed about their eating habits. The result was a plan for a street-food events run by – and for – students in collaboration with local food producers.

Our MOOC quartet made Fellowship tangible and meaningful, more so than any other RSA encounter I’ve had
- Kate Hammer FRSA

Peter – who informally led one of the groups of Fellows – also commented that: “It has been an effective key-turner for our local network by giving a real purpose to working together on a specific, focused and time-bound project”.

“It offers a model that could be usefully deployed in developing a coherent network across the county and possibly the region.”

The MOOC runs regularly and is provided by +Acumen, the community/education arm of the global anti-poverty organisation Acumen that was founded in 2001 by Jacqueline Novogratz.

Want to join a MOOC with other Fellows yourself? Get in touch with your RSA Regional Manager to discuss.

Working face-to-face with your group
+Acumen is unusual compared to larger and better-known MOOC providers – because its courses all rely on weekly face-to-face ‘Lab’ meetings with your group, where you will be working on… [Continued]
Read more

The Big Idea – Banbury Literary Live

September 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Fellowship, Uncategorized 

This is a guest blog from Liz Holme FRSA who, along with her team of literacy enthusiasts, is trying to reignite Britain’s love of reading.

Banbury Literary LiveAccording to the National Literacy Trust, a fifth of young people say that they rarely or never read outside class.  There is overwhelming evidence that literacy has a significant relationship to people’s life chances. A person with poor literacy is more likely to live in a non-working household, live in overcrowded housing and is less likely to vote.  Literacy skills and a love of reading can break this vicious cycle of deprivation and disadvantage.

The aim of our Fellow-led group is to increase reading for pleasure and literacy levels, amongst the young people of Banbury.

It should not be down only to teachers to achieve this.  An enthusiasm for literature can be kindled not just by schools but with the help of whole communities that they serve.

“A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.” Nelson Mandela Read more

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    Oliver Reichardt manages the Fellowship team. He represents the Fellowship on the Executive Team, ensuring Fellows remain at the heart of the RSA’s work. You can follow him on Twitter: @OliverReichardt

    Lynn Broadbent is Fellowship Director for the US, managing the innovative events undertaken by our Fellows across the Pond - drop her a line if you are going to be Stateside. Follow @lynnusa

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    Deputy Head of Regional Programme developing the seed-bed of projects and activities. Vivs Long-Fergson supports Fellows in North West, Ireland and Wales and oversees the regional programme team. Beside the RSA, Vivs' passions include relationship management, social media and her two dogs. Follow @vivslf

    RSA Catalyst is one of the key resources available to Fellow-led projects. Alex Watson has the challenging task of managing the programme, from initial enquiry through to successful completion. @watsoalex

    Matthew Mezey, our Online Community Manager, works with international Fellows as well as the ever-growing number who are active in the RSA’s online communities. Follow @MatthewMezey

    Deputy Head of Fellowship Services, Samantha Fletcher, oversees the library service and all the day to day Fellowship administration. She is dyslexic, loves knitting, sewing and F1 Follow @samfletch1979

    Adam Timmins leads the partnerships team to identify potential Fellows who can contribute to the aims and objectives of the RSA. Central to this is developing partnerships with organisations that share similar aims to the RSA – reaching out to new communities and helping our partners to do the same. Follow @Im_AdamT

    As Regional Programme Manager for the East and West Midlands, Richard Pickford is responsible for a region that reaches from Grimsby to Worcester. He is also working with the RSA’s exciting Family of Academies to develop positive connections and growth. Follow @pickfordrich

    As Regional Programme Manager for the West and South West, Lou Matter is responsible for a region that reaches from Swindon through to Penzance. She is also working on a Fellowship Arts Network and works closely with SkillsBank. Follow @LouMatter

    Joanna’s role is to engage Fellows and give them the tools and support to develop their ideas. She does this regionally in the South East and East of England, and through Skillsbank. Follow @Joannacmassie

    As Fellowship Development Coordinator, Mark Hall is the first point of contact for people interested in becoming RSA Fellows. If you are looking for someone to tell you all about the benefits of Fellowship at the RSA, he’s your man! Follow @MarkHallRSA

    Recently joining the RSA as a Fellowship Development Coordinator, Alex Barker is first point of contact for any FRSA who want to nominate someone for Fellowship. Working in the partnerships team on various aspects of recruitment, Alex is happy to chat about the benefits of becoming a Fellow and is available for tours of RSA House. Follow @alexandrabarke1

    As Regional Programme Manager for London and South Central, Becca Massey-Chase is responsible for a region that reaches from the Isle of Wight to Banbury, as well as the capital where we have around 8000 Fellows. Becca is particularly interested in learning about and supporting new Fellows. Follow @becca_mchase

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