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IFSTAL Summer School Day 1

Day one roundup

After a warm introduction from IFSTAL Programme Lead John Ingram, the group were tasked with a quick poll to see how much they knew about fellow participants from the handbook biographies. Clearly the group had been paying attention, or possibly sneaking a peek at the handbook off-camera, as the high levels of knowledge set a good precedent for the day ahead.

The first guest speaker was Professor Gerald Midgley, Professor of Systems Thinking in the Business School at the University of Hull. In his talk, he emphasised the importance of the stakeholder perspective and showed how stakeholder analysis can help assess whose voices matter. He also focused on the conflict that arises when you include stakeholders from different perspectives, emphasising how building empathy across boundaries is key when tackling complex issues.

Horizon Three Thinking – a tool for looking to the future and facilitating transformation – was the next topic in the spotlight. In his talk, Dr Harley Pope of the University of Reading and an Education Co-ordinator on the EFSET programme highlighted how investigating the future can allow us to notice potential in the present so we can bring that forwards to help create the future we want.

Reflections from the workplace

Hearing from those working in the food system has always been key to inspiring and informing IFTSAL students. In a short vox pop, former IFSTAL alumnus Luke Hamilton, now a Social Research Officer at Defra, explained how systems thinking is being used in his multidisciplinary team and on a wider scale as Defra tackles challenges in the food system and beyond.

By lunchtime it was time to step away from Zoom however the hard work was just beginning as the project group work commenced.