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Sussex embarks on a major culture listening programme

Alongside the development of the University’s new strategy, Sussex is undertaking a major project to discover how it can positively change the culture for everyone at the institution.

In our response to Professor Nicole Westmarland’s report, the University announced it had commissioned the ‘Changing University Cultures’ project – and the experts responsible for designing and delivering the project are now ready to begin consulting with the campus community.

Changing University Cultures is a project developed by academics here at Sussex – and has already been run, very successfully, at Imperial College.

Professor Alison Phipps and Dr Liz McDonnell - both in the School of Law, Politics and Sociology - have designed the project, in close collaboration with Jess Taylor, an independent organisational development consultant. The main researcher on the project will be Gemma North.

Ultimately the project is aimed at helping universities to uncover why people’s experience and enjoyment of work differ and importantly how to address concerns with practical tools. The hope is that this will drive a new culture of positive change through the process of listening and action.

Over the coming weeks all staff and students will have the opportunity to become involved in the Changing University Cultures project, beginning with a short online survey and invitations to attend a series of focus groups. 

Commenting on the project, Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell said: “I’m really pleased that Changing University Cultures is under way at Sussex. Alison and Liz have worked quickly to ensure there is no delay in implementing this wide-ranging project. Our culture defines the environment in which we all work and study at Sussex. It relates to our wellbeing and fundamentally affects what we can and can’t achieve. This is one strand of the comprehensive approach we are taking to equality and diversity, and I look forward to sharing more developments with you in this area soon.”

Alison Phipps commented: “We developed this project to find a way of helping people to come forward and share their views on what it is really like to work and study at Sussex. But it doesn’t stop there. With a newfound awareness, we’re able to uncover trends and themes - then delve deeper into discovering ways to bring about meaningful change. The project targets the gap between policy and practice – it’s about listening, reflecting and most importantly, taking action." 

Liz McDonnell added: "We want as many people as possible to get involved, and there will be many ways in which the whole community can have their say – starting with a short online survey – followed by focus groups and interview. We have seen this work really well at Imperial College and we believe the benefits it will bring to Sussex will be significant and long-lasting.”

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Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex
Last updated: Thursday, 8 June 2017

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