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Students as leaders: Invisible Grail is bringing Generation Z to the SDF conference 2019

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Creating a manifesto for how staff developers can build institutions that will thrive now and in the future, a one-hour session with Invisible Grail.

What are the implications for staff developers in preparing university workforces for the hopes and aspirations of Generation Z?

This is the question Invisible Grail will be exploring during a one-hour session at this year’s SDF Conference.

The role of staff developers is essential if universities are to excel in an environment where the needs and aspirations of students are rapidly evolving.”

We know that Generation Z has high expectations. We see that from the passion they apply to calling for immediate action on climate emergency. We know how unimpressed our young people are by adult inertia. They don’t want empathy from us – they need us to do something. And to be invited into being part of the change to make things happen. 

Our colleagues, Rhiannon-Breeze Harris, a student at Anglia Ruskin University and Helen Teague, an Organisational Development expert, will join Paul Gentle and Louise Clifton, Directors at Invisible Grail in facilitating the session. We’ll bring students directly into the heart of the most pressing issues facing staff developers, and put forward a manifesto for how staff developers can prepare their institutions to thrive in the future.

Commenting on why we need to rethink how we engage with students, Rhiannon said:

“We need to bring students into the conversation of how universities are run in a systematic way, beyond student representatives or feedback forms. We don’t want perfection; we want honesty and trust between us and our university”

The role of staff developers is essential if universities are to excel in an environment where the needs and aspirations of students are rapidly evolving. Students don’t expect passive learning environments or one-way interactions: beyond value for money, they are seeking value for life. An experience where they have accountable relationships, gain skills that will help prepare them for their own future and for a future of global citizenship too.

Increasingly, there is a need to prepare staff to model resilience, demonstrate agility and create trusting relationships with students. We also need to support staff wellbeing, and the capacity and capabilities of every colleague to embrace these changes.

Bringing together three perspectives from a student, an organisational development specialist and a leadership expert, we will invite colleagues to discuss the challenges that staff developers are facing and how we can enhance collaboration to develop a workforce that can excel now and in the future.

Now’s the time to make a change.


Rhiannon, Helen, Paul and Louise will be running a one-hour session ‘The hopes and aspirations of Generation Z: what are the implications for staff developers?’ at the 2019 Staff Developers Conference in Newcastle. Join us on Thursday 21 November at 11.45am to create a manifesto to help you and your institution to thrive.

You can find out more about the conference here: SDF Conference 2019: Building Bridges for Emerging Futures

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