Learning to wonk

Learning To Wonk, Sheffield, February 2017

We recently delivered a day’s workshop which brought to life the three elements of Wonkhe: policy, people and politics. Learning to Wonk Before You Can Rant has been in development for a number of months and we thought that we had a good idea (in addition to a good name), but good ideas still need serious time and iterative development to come to fruition.

In Sheffield on the 16th February, Learning to Wonk had its first outing. The programme follows an incremental progression, each task building on the last: in the morning, we learned about how policy is made. We looked at tools for policy analysis and took on some current examples from a range of topics. This was wonkery in action, bridging from participants’ own experiences to ‘big picture’ policy development.

And then came the ranting. After thinking about what makes compelling articles on Wonkhe, we looked at constructing arguments to explore, critique and analyse policy areas. The ideas generated in the room showed subtlety, creativity and ingenuity. It doesn’t end there: we’ll work with participants to see the fruits of their work come to like on the site.

What about the people? For us, the real prize of delivering the workshop was meeting a diverse range of people, all of whom have an interest in HE. They’re professional staff, academics, come from students’ or staff unions, or work in third sector organisations. In the room in Sheffield, we had over two centuries of experience of working in higher education. Wonkhe is a great platform for expressing this wealth of knowledge.

At the end of the day, we couldn’t help but feel that we’d been participating in what Wonkhe does best: we make connections, explore ideas, and share experiences. We do so with a shared commitment to making the best of higher education, and understanding the policy and politics of HE through debate.

We are running Learning to Wonk again on two dates in May. You can find more details, including testimonials from previous participants here.

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