|Course coordinator(s)||dr. PW de Jong|
|dr. VC Tassone|
|dr. SS Okoth|
|Lecturer(s)||dr. VC Tassone|
|Examiner(s)||dr. VC Tassone|
Language of instruction:
Before applying for a position in an Academic Consultancy Training (ACT) project team, the student must have (disciplinary) knowledge in his/her field of study and should have successfully completed at least 12 but preferably 24 credits of MSc-level courses or a first MSc-thesis. Furthermore the student should master Information literacy, computer literacy and presentation skills on minimally the level of the MOS-modules; English verbal and writing skills should be on a level which allows full contribution to the ACT project and process development and full independent functioning in a student team.
Note: For information about ACT registration deadlines and other details for enrolling to the ACT course see: https://actregistration.wur.nl/
The Academic Consultancy Training course is a 9 ECTS course which starts each period (except period 4) of the year. Period 3 and 4 is a combined period (the two weeks of the re-exams between period 3 and 4 are not scheduled for ACT). ACT is an eight week course scheduled in the mornings of weeks 1-3 and week 8 (the last week), and full time during weeks 4-7.
In the ACT course, teams of 5 to 7 students are assigned to execute a transdisciplinary-oriented academic consultancy project for an external commissioner (for example governmental, private and civil society organizations). These teams are composed on the basis of required disciplinary mix for the execution of the project and the preferences expressed by students. Through an application letter students indicate what their disciplinary knowledge will add to the execution of the project. Each team has an assigned process coach and a content coach/academic advisor relevant to the project.
The multidisciplinary and preferably multicultural team will carry out a design type project for their commissioner. This might be the design of new technologies, policy papers, business strategies, regional development arrangements, communication plans or draft research plans for integrated research programmes. Crucial is that teams bring together academic insights and practical knowledge, reach a synthesis of the compiled information in consultation with the commissioner, and translate this into an advice on future actions for their commissioner.
The ACT course is scheduled in such a way that students can combine the course with MOS modules. Note that there are different versions of ACT like Entrepreneurial ACT (E-ACT) and Sustainability Transitions ACT (S-ACT). Those versions are offered only in some of the periods throughout the year. More information about those different versions of ACT and the periods in which they are offered, as well as other information about registration to the ACT course and practicalities can be found on the ACT course website. That is: https://actregistration.wur.nl/ . Via this ACT course website students have to pre-register no later than roughly one period in advance and for period 1 this implies in May the preceding study year. Exact closing dates for registration can be found on the homepage of the ACT course website. This pre-registration and the keywords students enter there describing their expertise, are used to search for meaningful ACT projects. Please note that it is not possible to register for this course via SSC. After students have applied and been assigned to a team the course coordinator will take care of the registration of the participants at SSC, this is generally done in week 1 of a period.
After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- define, and adjust when and if necessary, with a team and in interaction with a commissioner, the goal of their transdisciplinary-oriented project and a project proposal plan, including research questions, methods of analysis, expected outputs, budget, project planning and management;
- contribute at an academic level to the execution of a transdisciplinary-oriented project, both in terms of process and content, by gathering, selecting and analysing information and by integrating this into final project deliverables;
- discuss and defend their viewpoints and conclusions in a professional and academically correct way;
- implement reflective learning by an assessment of their personal functioning in and contribution to a professional team and discuss reflections and feedback in writing and during assessment interviews;
- demonstrate academic consultancy attitude and skills to execute the team project within complex collaborative environments.
- assigned team functions: Prior to starting, the students will be assigned functions with a clear task description: team manager, secretary, (financial) controller, member;
- team meetings: During the course, teams have formal meetings, which the process coach can attend to. With the assistance of the coach, students regularly reflect on the functioning of the team and of individual members;
- meetings with commissioner: Students organize and prepare meetings with the commissioner. During at least the first meeting the coach will be present as observer;
- project proposal: Teams prepare a project proposal, a first concept is discussed with the coach and commissioner. Project proposals should at least address the mission/vision of the group team, the aim of the project and consultancy research questions, the planning chart, the stakeholder analysis, go/no-go decisions and involved risks. The plan is further scrutinized by the commissioner, the coach and the available academic advisor. During project execution the team checks the project-plan and negotiates adjustments, also with the commissioner, when and if needed;
- skills training: A workshop is used to translate theory of project planning into the preparation of a project plan. Training sessions are organized for introducing theory and for exercising academic consultancy skills related to communication, teamwork and reflective learning, to support processes related to team building and handling complex collaborative environments. On request teams can be supported in methods in social research when and if needed;
- project execution: During project execution a certain division of tasks is needed, yet it is not desirable that only one or two persons work on the integration of elements. The transdisciplinary orientation of the projects requires that all members actively work on synthesis and participate in the formulation of the final product in consultation with the commissioner;
- project deliverables: In principle all teams deliver a project report and an oral presentation, in English, to their commissioner and coaches involved in the ACT. Alternative and possible additional deliverables for each project are defined in the project-plan in interaction with the commissioner and the process coach and academic advisor.
- individual assignments: Students compile a (self) assessment dossier. This includes the: application letter, expectation paper, reflection forms, mid-term reflection paper and final reflection paper. During the starting, mid-term and final interviews the coach gives feedback on the dossier. Elements of this dossier are discussed during team meetings.
The final mark is calculated as follows:
- project proposal (15%) (100% coach);
- product (42.5%) (of which 50% assigned academic advisor, 25% coach and 25% commissioner);
- team process (10%) (100% coach);
- individual process (32.5%) (of which 50% coach and 50% mutual assessment team);
All parts: written self-assessment, project proposal, product, team process and individual process, have to be sufficient (5.5 at least) to pass the course.
A reader on communication and personal development skills is available at the WUR-shop.
Other reading material is available at the ACT course website.