The Next Generation


The Next Generation Initiative at the Open University embodies a forward-looking approach towards fostering an inclusive and supportive environment for both students and staff to pursue their career and life aspirations. It encompasses a wide array of initiatives aimed at promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion while facilitating the entire research journey, from its inception to advanced stages of professional development.

The event on February 8th was organized by Professors Lindsay O’Dell and Clare Warren. Dr. Franci Awolowo delivered the keynote, sharing insights on mentorship, character, and collaboration in early career research. Following this, Dr. Margaret Ebubedike led an interactive session focusing on support, barriers, recognition, and development.

Prof. Kevin Shakesheff delivered an inspiring talk on research and innovation. The final panel featured Prof. Richard Holliman discussing impactful and engaged research, Prof. Arosha Bandara addressing digital presence, and Prof. Lindsay O’Dell sharing insights on managing networking.

At its core, the Next Generation programme seeks to address prevalent issues within the research landscape, not just locally but also on a national and global scale. It aligns with contemporary discussions and initiatives within the broader academic community, including the R&D People and Culture Strategy, which underscores the importance of nurturing talent, enhancing career opportunities, and fostering a diverse and dynamic research workforce.

One of the key motivations to join the Next Generation program lies in its commitment to expanding access to research careers and ensuring that individuals from diverse backgrounds have equitable opportunities to thrive in this domain. By prioritizing stable career paths, promoting interdisciplinary collaboration, and facilitating seamless transitions between academia and industry, the program aims to dismantle barriers that may deter aspiring researchers from pursuing their ambitions.

Participation in the Next Generation program is open to all stakeholders within the academic community, including students, early-career researchers, faculty members, and administrative staff. Engaging with the program may involve various activities such as attending workshops, seminars, and networking events focused on career development, diversity, and research excellence. Additionally, individuals can contribute to shaping the program’s initiatives by providing feedback, proposing new ideas, or actively participating in its implementation.

Furthermore, the Next Generation program emphasizes the importance of cultivating a positive and inclusive research culture, where individuals feel empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents. Recognizing and rewarding achievements at all levels, fostering mentorship opportunities, and promoting confidence among aspiring researchers are integral aspects of creating an environment conducive to personal and professional growth.

In summary, the Next Generation program represents a holistic approach towards nurturing the next wave of researchers and leaders in academia and beyond. By fostering a supportive and inclusive environment, the program aims to unlock the full potential of individuals, regardless of their background or circumstances, and pave the way for a more diverse and innovative research community.


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