Knowledge Transfer Partnership: Raleigh International
In 2008, Raleigh International contacted Birkbeck in order to discuss the possibility of setting up a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), a government-funded scheme that supports businesses in improving their competitiveness and productivity through the use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within academic institutions.
Raleigh International is a charitable organisation, which has been providing international expeditions for young people (17-24) and volunteer managers (25+) since 1984.
Throughout its 25 years' existence, the set of competencies and skills and the range of educational programmes offered by Raleigh had evolved in an organic way. Raleigh was concerned about the lack of coherent educational methodology and the resultant potential inability to replicate and grow the business. They felt an urgent need to review their educational programmes and to identify Raleigh’s unique identity but also to provide some recognition for Raleigh expeditions’ unique learning experience by accrediting the learning outcomes.
Two academics with expertise relevant to the business were identified within the college:
- Dr Zhu Hua, Reader in Applied Linguistics and Communications
- Professor Sue Jackson, Professor of Lifelong Learning and Gender
They collaborated with Raleigh to define the scope of the project and to put an application together, which was accepted in November 2008.
‘When I started the Raleigh project, I had recently completed another KTP investigating the impact of participation in intercultural summer camps on children’s development. The Raleigh KTP enabled me to test the findings on a different group of population and to explore Intercultural Communication theories in the context of international development and Global Citizenship,' says Dr Zhu Hua.
‘My research focuses on informal and lifelong learning, and I publish widely in this area. I am particularly interested in ways in which pedagogies for learning outside the classroom are developed and extended. This work has enabled me to explore another aspect of how people learn in and through social settings by investigating experiential learning for volunteer venturers and managers.'
Dr Brandon Charleston, who completed a PhD on cross-cultural management issues for managers working on overseas development projects in 2008, was then recruited as an associate, who, under the supervision of Zhu Hua and Sue, was tasked to carry out the project within the company’s settings.
Dr Charleston states: ‘The two years I have spent as a KTP associate have been very enjoyable, combining academic research and practical application as well as continuing and expanding on my previous interests and expertise. I have had the opportunity to lead a project from beginning to end and have also had the chance to present papers on international volunteering, enhancing employability and experiential education at a number of UK and international conferences. I have learnt a lot and enjoyed making a contribution to Raleigh’s strategic development and to Birkbeck’s knowledge of learning beyond the classroom.'
The work carried out through the KTP has enabled Raleigh to identify what is unique to them and therefore to communicate it more clearly to the general public. It also enabled them to provide a more consistent and effective result for participants through the creation of the International Field Leadership (IFL) Postgraduate Certificate for Volunteers Managers (VM), which started in Birkbeck in October 2010.
VMs going on expeditions have now the option to get their experiential learning accredited by applying reflective practices to their experience. This added value to the Raleigh concept will likely attract a larger number of Volunteer Managers on expeditions, who will in turn be able to promote themselves as accomplished and experienced leaders, with a critical perspective on their own practices.
Stacey Adams, Chief Executive, Raleigh International states that ‘The KTP provides a framework which allows partners to join together from different sectors with different cultures and to work together to develop genuine benefit for both parties.’