I’m writing this column in a slightly surreal setting – on ANZAC Day, at a desk in China having just been conferred with an honorary professorship from Tianjin University. This reinforces the standing and reach of our University as well as the truly global nature of education.
But now to more immediate business.
After weeks of dropping not-so-cryptic teasers and a series of unsubtle hints, it’s a thrill to now confirm that, come the end of May, the University of South Australia will be hosting the only show in town.
unijam will take place on May 29-30, representing an exciting world-first for a university as we develop our new strategic action plan.
unijam is a totally online, wide-ranging conversation about the University’s future directions that will bring together our staff, students and alumni as well as a host of VIP and invited friends.
It will be conducted using IBM’s leading-edge crowd-sourcing Collaborative Innovation™ technology that will not only enable real time, interactive conversations to take place from anywhere in the world but will then comprehensively capture the ideas and insights and allow us to incorporate them into our medium and long-term strategic planning.
In essence, it’s a worldwide brainstorming session that’s open to all members of the University of South Australia community – taking the best and brightest input forward to determine our future actions.
The results that it yields will provide an invaluable resource to help us better deliver (and even exceed) the aspirations outlined in Horizon 2020, and to inform and chart the path we take beyond that horizon.
It will form an integral element of our next strategic blueprint that will bring together a range of tangible objectives as well as set out the means by which they can be collectively achieved.
I’m aware there are members of our staff, as well as current and former students, who have long wanted to be more intimately and immediately involved in our planning and decision making.
Well, this is your chance.
All you have to do is register prior to May 29 through the unijam website, and then log-on to be as active or passive as you feel the need, at whatever time within that two-day window best suits you.
It doesn’t matter where you are at that given time – you can be at home, work, between lectures, or at the bus stop or airport. Everyone in the institution is supported and encouraged to get involved over these two days – as I said above, it’s the only show in town – so let’s make it our collective priority to contribute.
For anyone wondering why they should get involved in this exercise, the answer is as succinct as it is self-evident.
Put simply, this is your chance to air your views and lend your voice to the future decisions of your university. It’s a take it or leave it opportunity – don’t let it pass you by.
It’s easy to identify problems within any organisation, but it takes genuine engagement and a sense of corporate camaraderie to put forward some potential and practical solutions.
Among the key features of unijam is that it’s an open and transparent process that is designed to deliver answers.
Once you register, you can watch as the conversations – relating to topics as diverse as how we can improve our educational offerings and the student experience through to how we raise the global visibility and impact of UniSA – as they unfold. And then pick the moment and the issue to which you want to add your thoughts.
You don’t have to be an expert on any given subject. And there are no such things as daft suggestions. Let me just say that again. All ideas in this environment are good ideas.
The key premise of unijam is to get as many people involved as possible.
To help drive the discussions, we’ve enlisted the help of a number of special guests who have been only too happy to be part of an event that breaks new ground for universities worldwide.
Among the identities who have already indicated they will take part are the Premier of South Australia, Jay Weatherill, and the Leader of the Opposition, Steven Marshall. More VIPs will be announced via the unijam website in coming days and weeks.
The fact that no other university has engaged in such a vast, far-reaching consultative venture – even though IBM has helped organisations as influential as NATO and the European Commission to stage their own ‘jams’ – also means the eyes of the world will be on us come May 29-30.
This is an event that will place our University squarely on the map, as well as helping us to comprehensively map our University.
It will be a milestone in UniSA’s ongoing evolution, but the only way you can be a part of this history is to register.
So jump online, add your voice to the chorus and keep an eye out for even more details and announcements in the weeks ahead.
Above all else, it’s going to be a lot of fun.