‘HE Outreach: Developing Guidelines on Good Practice for Academics’ Call for Applications

‘HE Outreach: Developing Guidelines on Good Practice for Academics’

Call for Applications


Workshop Convener: Dr Matthew Johnson, Lecturer in Politics, Lancaster University, m.johnson@lancaster.ac.uk


Overview: A number of recent trends, notably the rise of £9,000+ fees, has brought into sharper focus the civic duties of HE institutions to engage in Outreach. While there is debate about the definition of Outreach, it is generally agreed that this consists in active efforts by academics to take the knowledge and skills of HE out of the academy and into non-academic contexts. Such efforts are often grounded instrumentally in recruitment, which is sometimes tied to the Widening Participation (WP) agenda – the obligation of institutions to encourage participation of students from a range of groups identified by the Office for Fair Access as being under-represented and disadvantaged. At the exit end of HE study, Outreach has become a site for pursuit of the employability agenda, providing experience for students as they approach graduation. In addition, there have also been more sporadic and discipline specific attempts to engage with other social agendas, such as ‘Prevent’, with its concern for de-radicalization. Finally, Outreach has provided opportunities for individual academics to integrate the impact agenda into their work with research councils and the Research Excellence Framework (REF) increasingly concerned with the value of projects beyond academia.

It is clear that academics, often in combination with Outreach professionals, are engaging in myriad different approaches to Outreach. While Outreach professionals often deploy fairly similar programmes (finance talks) and materials (presentations) by virtue of their being non-subject specific, academics often engage with the same agendas in radically different ways, reflecting divergences in discipline, subject and identity of the groups with which they are engaging. While there are clear reference points for Outreach professionals in developing, say, WP approaches (developed via OFFA guidance, as well as WP professional networks), there are seldom guidelines for good practice for academics, precisely because of divergences in motivation and content and because Outreach will seldom be the central focus of professional life. Given that Outreach is often regarded as an administrative side-line (or distraction), many good programmes and materials go unrecognized by colleagues. Perhaps more importantly, the principles behind those approaches are seldom disseminated, depriving colleagues of essential knowledge at a time in which many such endeavours are in their experimental infancy. This is unfortunate, as academics can provide the very subject- and discipline-specific content capable of engaging and interesting non-academic communities in ways that non-subject-specific programmes may not.

This one-day workshop at Lancaster University seeks to bring academics from a range of disciplines together to present and receive constructive feedback on their particular approaches from colleagues engaged in similar activities. The workshop will move, in the afternoon, towards a session in which general principles of good practice will be developed and codified. Among other things, these guidelines will be intended to help academics to:

  • identify features or essences of programmes and resources of particular value;
  • identify and manage practicable relationships with different non-academic actors and communities;
  • understand and manage the place of Outreach within a broader academic workload;
  • outline possibilities for integration of different agendas (e.g. recruitment and employability);
  • provide means of shaping research-led programmes;
  • articulate the limits of conducting research through outreach;

The aim will be to co-produce a short article outlining guidelines for good practice and illustrating those guidelines through examples presented at the workshop. The content for the collectively authored paper, which will be shaped electronically before, during and, electronically after the final session of the workshop, will be submitted to a periodical such as The Journal of Higher Education or British Journal of Educational Studies, etc., and disseminated further through public deposition of the pre-publication version. A Google Doc will be circulated outlining potential guidelines for collective development and comment in advance of the session.

Workshop schedule

Saturday 14th April, Lancaster University

10:30: Registration

10:45: 1st Panel presentations of 20 minutes in length each, with 10 minutes each for feedback

12:45: Lunch

13:45: 2nd Panel presentations of 20 minutes in length each, with 10 minutes each for feedback

15:45: Refreshments

16:00: Developing guidelines for good practice

18:00: Close

Cost: There will be no workshop fee and lunch, refreshments and venue hire are being covered by the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion. Unfortunately, no travel or accommodation bursaries will be available.

Applications: We invite applications from academics in any discipline who are developing, or have developed, Outreach programmes and are willing to present their work or who wish to participate in discussions as to the development of guidelines for Outreach. These programmes can include focus on such specific agendas as WP, employability, Prevent and impact. Please submit applications by email to Matthew Johnson at m.johnson@lancaster.ac.uk. Please include the following information:




Overview of programme of Outreach (no more than 300 words – please include links to any electronic materials and attach any indicative materials on which you would like to receive feedback):

Description of non-academic group, subject areas and age groups with which the programme is engaged:

Dietary requirements:


Submission instructions and deadlines

Applications: February 15th 2018

Pre-circulation of document on guidelines for group development: 14th March 2018

Pre-circulation of overviews of programmes: 7th April 2018

Workshop: 14th April 2018

Submission of article on guidelines for best practice: 1st June 2018


Dr Matthew Johnson


Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YL

Email: m.johnson@lancaster.ac.uk

Tel: 07886921377

Web: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/ppr/profiles/matthew-johnson

A Cross-Cultural Working Group on ‘Good Culture’ and Precariousness: http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/good-culture/

Precariousness: Here and There in Ashington and Aboriginal Australia, Brightmoon Media: https://vimeo.com/129011567

Relocating Land, Memory and Place, Faze 3 Films: https://vimeo.com/137791382

Politics and IR Outreach: http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/politics-outreach/

Global Discourse: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rgld20

Evaluating Culture: http://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9780230296565

The Legacy of Marxism: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/the-legacy-of-marxism-9781441103499/



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