Study of live consultative and deliberative projects

University of Gloucestershire

Mr James Garo Derounian
Principal Lecturer & National Teaching Fellow
Telephone: +00 44 01242 714562

August 2008

Vignette title and details

Study of live consultative and deliberative projects
Over one semester (15 weeks total), repeated & refined over a decade
Cross university


Multiple & inter-disciplinary

Employment sector

Multi sector: e.g. planning, regeneration, health, social work, heritage management

Student numbers

20+ final year undergraduates across university

Credit bearing?

Optional. WIL components incorporated in a final year undergraduate module Participation & Consultation (coded EL307).


WIL is incorporated in to the 12 teaching weeks including field visits, guest practitioner inputs, and one [of the two] assignments - worth 50% of the overall module mark requires students to identify, review & evaluate a real consultative or deliberative exercise carried out by a (public sector) body.



Number of staff involved

One staff member delivers and co-ordinates the module delivery, including WIL aspects.


Key Words

Active learning; Multi-disciplinary; assessment; live projects.

Participation and consultation (EL307) is a final year undergraduate module delivered at the University of Gloucestershire (UK). The emphasis on WIL is essential given the applied and current nature of participation and consultation in decision-making. Whether you look at UK policy or programme development since the 1990s across diverse areas such as heritage management, environmental action, health & social welfare, planning & regeneration there is a strong/central emphasis on citizen inputs to decision-making. And globally this is true of the pursuit of sustainability and climate change remediation.

This module, with its inherent emphasis on WIL, endeavours to walk the talk and practise what it teaches.learning by doing is essential and appropriate to the subject matter. Students respond to the contemporary, applied & interactive nature of this course. The assignments reflect and extend classroom understanding of participation and consultation; and enable students to select live deliberative events and initiatives that reflect their own degree and topic interests, such as sports development, social welfare and local governance, to explore in assignment submissions.

Structure of programme
This module has been running in its present, applied, form incorporating WIL since 1998. Its evolution has been gradual and ever-changing as the participatory and consultative initiatives (both local, regional and national) change. Given the Universitys emphasis on active learning and the pursuit of sustainability/climate change remediation, this module expresses and make a contribution towards both strategic goals. It also ties in with the author/module tutors work through a central government funded Centre of Excellence in Teaching & Learning CeTL. The University of Gloucestershires own CeTL researches, practises and reviews active learning. More on this at .

For each session a pair of students select a participatory activity from Robert Chambers 2002 book Participatory Workshops: A Sourcebook of 21 Sets of Ideas and Activities, Earthscan, 2002 [ISBN 1853838624]

Again this requirement reinforces key aspects of participatory working; namely ownership by the students of the case study activity they choose; fun as a central aspect of learning (& community development); active participation; application of techniques across a range of subjects and circumstances. Student selected activities most of which lasted no more than 5 minutes have included participatory forms of session evaluation, how to refresh participants part way through a 2-hour contact session (energizers), and tips on dealing with dominators and helping the silent to speak (if they wish to!). Students were also encouraged to suggest appropriate speakers, projects for example a student drew in her work placement mentor to present on citizen participation in delivery of social welfare.

The module tutor identifies overlapping and mutual benefits for work-based practitioners, students, staff and communities. The following is an illustrative ratherthan exhaustive listing:

For students

For staff

Benefits for communities

Special features
This programme is multi & inter-disciplinary, & transferable across many different disciplines. In essence it is simple, effective, relevant, up-to-date and ever-changing this makes it fascinating for students, staff and practitioners alike.

The success of the programme is grounded in the maintenance of workable, longer term relationships with employers, students, graduates & staff based on mutual benefits and respect. The enterprise is sustainable the more enthusiastic practitioners that students are exposed to, the more of them seek to emulate and follow role models; so the pool of experienced graduates grows who, in turn, are encouraged to return to increase, up date and refresh the teaching and learning. It also enables students (and staff) to learn about their immediate surroundings their hopes, fears, aspirations and needs. As U.S. researchers DeLind & Link (2004) have stated:

Before losing themselves in the virtual or plunginginto the international, students need to carefully & critically examine what existsoutside their front (and back) doors.

The above quote underpins the approach to teaching and learning is this case study module.

As illustrations only students have participated in the following live participatory initiatives:

Voting on preferred health service priorities for the future; partnership with Gloucestershire combined Health Service Trusts 2008

Constructive critique of University of Southampton online learning materials related to aspects of citizenship 2007

Constructive critique of New Economics Foundation DEMOCS participatory technique 2006

Future work
As a priority the module tutor will present to colleagues, both within and without his university, on the benefits of aligning teaching and learning approaches to enact learning outcomes. So that students learn by doing and reinforce head knowledge by directly practising the knowledge they are gaining. The author/module tutor intends Faculty seminars and conference presentations to spread the word about this approach and to refine and reflect on his own experiences and ideas.

The author would also like to research how other disciplinary subjects and materials can be/are taught in such a way that the learning style and approaches exemplify and reinforce the content. James Derounian would therefore be keen to hear from colleagues & readers of this case study, who have insights and examples to offer. Contact details at the top of p.1 of this case study.

1 DeLind, L and Link, T (2004) Place as the Nexus of a Sustainable Future: A Course for All of Us in Barlett, PF & Chase, GW (eds) Sustainability on campus: stories and strategies for change, Cambridge, Mass. MIT Press

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