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Food for thought at the Tavistock Institute - a cultural centrepiece

Food for thought at the Tavistock Institute - a cultural centrepiece

Developing research, ideas and relationships through our lunchtime series of talks.

Developing research, ideas and relationships through our lunchtime series of talks…

As we approach the end of the third year of the Institute’s successful Lunchtime talk series, it seems an appropriate moment to look back upon these sessions and to share more widely the diversity of their content. Every third Wednesday at the Tavistock Institute, staff, associates, trustees and partners come together for these informal talks. Social science disciplines represented include anthropology, political science, psychology and sociology enhanced by expertise in organisational development, research and evaluation. Value is also placed on what other disciplines can bring including complexity theory and the visual arts and we have learnt how these different perspectives can enrich our work in particular in thinking about time and space and a more artisanal approach to our work.

Some sessions are theoretical, for example the use of Theory of Change in our evaluation, some about what is happening in the moment socially and politically. Earlier this year we invited a civil servant working on Big Society policy to talk about David Cameron’s challenge of ‘putting power in the hands of communities’ and later on we heard of the shadow side of the Big Society from a voluntary sector entrepreneur. Others talks are mutual explorations or spaces for staff members to test and work through developing ideas, such as asking what are the ways the Institute can help with public sector change or what is the role of identity in our work and for those we work with, for example We have heard about innovative and large scale social enterprise in the form of a multi systemic intervention that brings together family, home, school and community and were challenged in this talk on the value and relevance of randomised control trials.

The talks are also forums for exploration and professional development, in November we have two such sessions. Mannie Sher will use the space in preparation for his doctorate viva and ask staff members to play the role of panel, when he will present on different forms of Tavistock practice. Dr Kerstin Junge will bring the case study submitted as her practice portfolio for the Institute’s Practitioner Certificate in Consulting and Change – European Social Fund Intervention Logic, a project case study on working with the system. Dr Milena Stateva recently spoke about her plans to develop a stream of work in support to organisations working with trauma.We also invite our academic partners to help us keep in mind the traditions and history of our work and Jean Neumann, Senior Fellow in Scholarly Practice, has reminded us of Kurt Lewin’s continuing relevance today in our consulting, research and evaluation. Her first annual talk, ‘Lewinian principles of action research in Third Sector organisational development and change’, has developed into a series of online papers.

The talks culminate every August with the allotment lunch, living up to their eponym, when everyone is invited to participate by bringing food that is either homemade or home grown. No planning is involved, but each invitation produces a rich and a culturally diverse feast with food from Peru, the Middle East, France and London window boxes, gardens and allotments. We have been experimenting this year with recording the talks and if you’d like to experience some content at closer hand you can access videos and podcasts in the Lectures and Presentations section of our website.

The talks are complemented by the Institute’s reading group.

If you’d like to find out more or even contribute to this series please contact Juliet Scott, Business Development Manager.

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