For Science Centres across the UK the Coronavirus pandemic has led to increased uncertainty. Science Centre leaders have had to react to a rapidly changing operating environment, and it may be many years before calm and stability returns to our sector.
Leaders of Science Centres have had to be visible, present, strategic leaders of change. The pandemic accelerated many existing trends (e.g. the move online) and enforced financial pressures never anticipated, leading to reduced capacity and dismantled teams.
We are unsure how the boom of remote working and the reduction of traditional high-street-culture will impact Science Centres, however the drastic acceleration of societal inequity, and the role Science Centres can provide within our communities has never been more relevant.
Looking to the future, UK Science Centres need to support the development of our next generation of leaders. These leaders will need to be adaptive and inclusive, be politically and commercially aware, and supportive of creativity and expertise in their organisations. They will need to have a complete overview of their organisations, while also understanding their operating environment. Whilst leadership is a learnable skill set, it is rare in our sector to have the opportunity and space to reflect on those strategic skills and the attributes individuals bring to the role, until emerging leaders are ‘in the job’.
The ASDC Emerging Leaders Programme is a short, introductory programme for emerging leaders in Science and Discovery Centres that has been designed to begin to address this issue. Over 3 months a cohort group will explore how great leadership can transform organisations. Fellows will learn about adaptive leadership practices that can help our field to become more inclusive and engaging for the whole community. It is intended to be the starting point on a leadership journey, that may see participants seek out further learning opportunities as their careers develop.
Aims and objectives
The Vision of the ASDC Emerging Leaders Programmes is to encourage innovation and inclusion across the Science Centre sector through a National Leadership Programme which develops new practice in emerging leadership, embracing the values of inclusivity, equity and innovation.
This programme is an investment into our emerging leaders, providing skills, approaches and practices that can nurture and support the participants to become the inclusive and dynamic Science Centre leaders for our future.
Moving away from the traditional view of leaders as the inspirational hero and sole decision maker, this course embraces the skills and attributes for inclusive leadership for the future of Science Centres as valuable and open community assets.
“Leaders are at the heart of their network, not at the top of the pyramid”
This course will develop and support:
The individual as a leader
Strategic and financial skills
The skills required to be the leaders of inclusive organisations
External networks and support
Supported by the Wellcome Trust and UKRI as part of their broader Inspiring Science Fund. This programme has capacity of 10-20 emerging leaders, building a compact, connected and strong cohort of fellows for continued legacy. As we anticipate more than this applying to the programme, please complete the following to help us make a selection.
Key dates and format
This course will consist of 8 sessions of 2 hours. Six of these will be held online (Zoom) . We aim for an in-person (expenses paid) residential team day in September 2021, COVID-permitting. We anticipate that 1 or 2 of the sessions will be held as early morning or evening meetings, requiring your own commitment of personal time outside of working hours for further exploration of the content of these sessions. They will consist of a mix of workshop style skills based sessions, along with inspiring guest speakers.
w/c 5th July – Session 1
w/c 12th July - Session 2
w/c 19th July – Session 3
w/c 26th July – Session 4
August – Time for strategic initiative implementation
w/c 30th August – Session 5
w/c 6th September – Session 6 & 7 (an aim for in-person residential)
w/c 13th September – Final Session 8
October 2021 - Certification of completion will be posted to the ASDC Emerging Leaders Fellows
The Emerging Leaders Programme will be most relevant for individuals looking at senior leadership or director-level roles within the science engagement sector as their next career step. We expect that many candidates will currently be at a supervisor or manager level, but we encourage all who have great potential and/or ambition towards senior leadership to apply.
Before the final decision-making process, blind shortlisting will be used to ensure a fair assessment of candidates irrespective of their organisations and current post within them. We hope to recruit a diverse cohort (in all senses) that can learn from each other as well as from the programme.
This scheme is open to all science centre and science museum staff within the network and is not restricted to those who have received the recent Project Inspire digital grant funding.
As part of the programme, each participant will have an opportunity to develop and implement a project (a strategic initiative) that will support them to practise strategic leadership. This project idea will be finalised and approved by your sponsor in July and work on this will start in August 2021. It is likely that in most cases this will not come to a neat conclusion, but progress will be shared with the cohort when they regroup in September.
Initiatives should not just be an immediate technical or operational problem to solve. Instead, it should be something genuinely strategic for your organisation. It should be a project that has longer-term impact (beyond the timetable for this programme) and should support your own personal development and understanding of inclusive leadership. An example might be to influence decision making within your organisation about engagement with a specific community that is under-represented in the visiting audience.
Sponsorship from your organisation
Each participant needs an institutional sponsor from their organisation. Either the CEO or a member of the senior team who can provide support (time) for the participant’s involvement in the programme and can support their Strategic Initiative. Sponsors should be open and expect to meet with their mentee prior to the start of the programme, and at intervals along the way, and may be invited to participate in a separate conference call (without mentees). Sponsors also need to approve the decision of the Strategic Initiative for the strategic value of the organisation.
Please note, due to the support from the Inspiring Science Fund, there is no fee costs to individuals or supporting science centres to participate in the Emerging Leaders programme. However, the majority of sessions across the 3 month-programme will take place during working hours and therefore requires support from your organisation for your time.
Applications have now closed for this programme.
This work is made possible as part of the Inspiring Science Fund.