Facing the storm, navigating together

SDF’s Festival of Learning and Development 2020

Date: 23rd to 27th November 2020

Venue: AdvanceHE connect and zoom

‘The devil whispered in my ear, 

‘You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.”

Today I whispered in the devil’s ear, “I am the storm.” – Unknown

We’ve been facing a storm, while each one of us was in their own boat. We’ve been facing a storm to which we could only react. Moving from denial or obsession to rushed preparations, to facing the eye of the storm. The storm is passing through and we are now dealing with its aftermath – Did we notice the gale warnings? Did we listen to the forecasts? Was our boat strong enough? What direction did we take? How did we meet the storm? What are we rebuilding from the driftwood?

Possible scenarios and stories, we tell ourselves. Will life worsen as a result of the storm? While the details are unfolding and remain uncertain, we are left to acknowledge the bottom line. We weren’t able to prevent it, but as life continues we can navigate together. It’s time we lash our boats together and all become a big flotilla. We can learn new ways to sail the waves, seek refuge and return to the sea, so we can cope with the situation in the best way possible and, much more importantly, so we can live and thrive. 

It is time we move towards contemplation, from considered ideas to mindful actions. With a heavy emphasis on research-backed pragmatism and multidisciplinary collaboration, we can look at our decision making and interrogate it. How do we continue supporting others? How are we managing the challenges? How are we balancing the equalities? But, we need to make sense of what is happening, along with reading our compasses, making adjustments, changing decisions and drafting emergent plans as necessary. 

This year’s SDF Festival of Learning and Development will focus on four key themes:

Strengthening human centred strategies, approaches and resources – Reinforce wellbeing, mental health, resilience, empathy, emotional intelligence to succeed in times of uncertainty and complexity.

Devising flexible, inclusive and active learning –  Disseminate sustainable learning and development programmes and practice that enhance performance and success under varying degrees of social distancing requirements.

Enhancing leadership and management – Develop capacity and resources for individuals and groups across the institution to achieve effective strategic development, academic success and successful management of transformation.

Understanding our own and HEs own problems with race –  Learn and take ownership for our own micro incivilities and systemic inequalities, make the business sense for the advantages of the diversity dividend.

These themes will be explored through active learning approaches in the formats of workshops, symposium, Pecha Kucha presentations, learning playground activities (quick demos and trials), our sponsors and exhibitors.

Session formats:

All sessions will be delivered via Zoom and will be allocated 45 minutes.

  • Workshops (15 mins interactive presentation /15 mins group activity /15 mins roundup)
  • Symposium (15 mins presentation #1 /15 mins presentation #2 /15 mins Q&A) 
  • Pecha Kucha session (4 Pecha Kucha presentations @ 10 mins per presentation including Q&A) (Each Pecha Kucha follows 20×20 format: 20 slides at 20 secs per slide)
  • Learning Playground (15 mins presentation /15 mins group activity / 15 mins roundup)
  • Open to other formats as long as it guarantees audience participation and engagement

Session contribution proposal form – please complete and submit if you would like to propose a session

Deadline for SDF members:

7 September 2020

Deadline for SDF Sponsors:

14 September 2020

Conference Twitter hashtag:


Dr Rossana Espinoza

SDF Chair