Postgraduates learning in sofa pod

Action Learning and Social Action

  • 06 April 2020, 14:00 - 08 April 2020, 13:00
  • Eldon Building, University of Portsmouth, Eldon Building, University of Portsmouth, Winston Churchill Avenue, Portsmouth PO1 2DJ
  • £140-£295
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Hosted by the Faculty of Business and Law, University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom and in association with the journal Action Learning: Research and Practice (Routledge, Taylor & Francis).

This bi-annual conference brings together academics and practitioners from the UK and around the world to look at current issues, challenges and opportunities in the practice of action learning.

Portsmouth has one of the greatest maritime heritages in the world. For action learners it has another claim on our interest. Reg Revans, the principal pioneer of action learning, was born in Portsmouth on May 14 1907. Throughout his long life (he died in 2003) Revans worked to promote his ideas in practical ways, working with the newly formed Coal Board after the war, with the Fondation Industrie-Université in Brussels, with hospitals in London in the 1960s, and with many other organisations in many countries around the world. His father had been Principal Surveyor of Mercantile Shipping and as such was involved in the inquiry into the Titanic disaster.  He recalled asking his father what was the most important lesson to emerge from the inquiry. His father’s answer stayed with him. 'We must learn the distinction between cleverness and wisdom.'

The university is located close to the Historic Dockyard, which houses the world-famous ships Mary Rose, HMS Victory, and HMS Warrior 1860, modern day naval battleships, the National Museum of the Royal Navy, and a ‘Hear My Story’ exhibition telling the untold stories of the men and women who helped make the Royal Navy what it has become since the First World War.

Portsmouth has a strong literary heritage, being the birthplace of both the world famous author Charles Dickens and the world famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Both are commemorated in the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum and the ‘Study in Sherlock’ exhibition at the Portsmouth Museum respectively.

In Portsmouth there are a number of castles and forts including Southsea Castle, the Round Tower, and the Square Tower.


As we look ahead to 2021, the world looks to be ever more complex, divided and vulnerable and in need of innovative solutions. In a fractured world, at both a global and local level, we know that action learning is making a contribution in relation to the pressing problems of our time.  Fresh questions, new insights and imaginative conversations are now needed. The 2020 International Action Learning Conference takes as its theme Action Learning for Social Action. The context for this conference includes a growing awareness of the difficulties and challenges posed by climate change, inequalities and conflicts. The conference seeks to be a forum for sharing experience, insights, questions and practice.

• Work on the wicked problems of society – engaging with social problems such as poverty, homelessness, crime, climate change
• Regeneration work in cities, communities and neighbourhoods
• Creating sustainable futures
• Ethical and responsible leadership practices
• Adaptive action learning
• Environmental activism
• Internationalisation of action learning
• Efforts at political change and political action
• Fostering creativity and innovation
• Empowering people in relation to health, educational, developmental and social needs

The conference also includes a Gala Dinner, which will be held at The Queen's hotel.

Proposals for papers, workshops or other suggested contributions are invited for submission: 

• Refereed papers – abstracts of 300 words
• Accounts of practice, workshops – outline of 150 words.

Call for papers, and other enquiries
Please email abstracts, submissions, or proposals for workshops to by 31 October 2019

The journal's publishers Taylor and Francis are supporting a Best Paper Award and a Best Account of Practice Award at the conference in April. Make your submission via:

For more general enquiries please contact the 'Action Learning: Research and Practice' journal on

Why attend? The conference will interest all those concerned with social action and social justice, organisation change and improvement in business, public sector, not-for-profit and community contexts.

Cost: conference rate
Early bird bookings £245 - closes 31 January 2020
Full delegate fee £295 - closes 6 March 2020
Day fee £140 – closes 6 March 2020

Reserve your place



ALRP Committee Meeting 


Registration Opens




Welcome to the Conference, Introduction, What do we mean by Social Action? Networking activity: Professor Mike Pedler, Cheryl Brook

Room 1.08 Eldon Building


Poverty Alleviation - Chair: Chandana Sanyal

Room EB 1.08

Action Learning and Action Research to Alleviate Poverty-George Boak, Dave Devins and Jeff Gold

Motivations for entrepreneurial action with low-income outcomes-Isla Kapasi, with Prof. Laura Galloway, Dr Rebecca Stirzaker, Laura Jackman and Andreea Mihut

Social Action Learning: Applicability to Comrades in Adversity in Nigeria-Adrian Ogun, Reginald Braggs and Jeff Gold

Developing the circular economy in Tasmania-Genevieve Cother

Workshop 1-Chair: Cheryl Brook 

Room EB 1.09

Social Change Initiatives: Sharing the impact Action Learning has had in supporting social entrepreneurs who have gone on to train as facilitators-Fiona Scrase 

Action Learning Centre

16.30 – 17.30

Drinks Reception*

*Sponsored by Routledge, Taylor & Francis, publishers of the journal Action Learning: Research and Practice. Presentation of Best Paper and Best Account of Practice


Meal at The Dolphin (Portsmouth’s Oldest Pub)


Keynote address: Action learning - What's it all for? 

Professor Kiran Pro - Vice Chancellor for Partnerships and Engagement at the University of York
Professor of Entrepreneurship, Director of the Centre for Women’s Enterprise, Leadership, Economy & Diversity


Learning and Ethical Leadership - Chair: Aileen Lawless

Room EB 1.08

What can public managers learn from society? - Anne Murphy

From meeting to conversation - shifting the culture in a hierarchical context - Liz Wiggins, Carolyn Norgate, Carolyn Parker, Janet Baker, Keith Grieve

Reflections on the value of the Action Learning Dissertation - Jennifer Bowerman

Mental Health & Wellbeing - Chair: Cheryl Brook

EB 1.09

Team Coaching within a multidisciplinary team in an adult mental health setting – An action research study - Rose Bennett

Using Action Learning Sets to Support the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Postgraduate Researchers - Jane Creaton

Revans’ Helping the Helpless Project in an Historical & Political Context - Cheryl Brook

Workshop 2


Double Awareness Workshop: Promoting open reflection and exploration - Kirsten Bragh & Lotte Svalgaard Action lab®


Refreshment break


Community Development & Change - Chair: Mike Pedler

EB 1.08

Action Learning Community Development: A South Korean Approach - Yonjoo Cho, Hyeon-Cheol Bong, and Seung-Hee Park

Action learning for neighbourhood improvement – from practice to theory- Tom Bourner and Asher Rospigliosi

What wires together, fires together. From Swift to Cognitive Trust in Communities of Interaction resp. Virtual Action Learning - André Cabanis

Workshop 3

EB 1.09

Action Learning-based UK Civil Service Organisation Development Programme -Richard Hale & Carolyn Norgate

Workshop 4


Action Learning in the Service of Food Security and Poverty Alleviation in Mozambique - Armando Machevo Ussivane & Paul Ellwood




Adaptations - Chair: Aileen Lawless

EB 1.08

Role of action learning in generative action - Jackie Jeffrey & Chandana Sanyal

The Future of Packaging - A Collaborative Action Learning Approach - Jeff Gold, Ben Mitchell, Andy Lima, Olga Munroe

Adaptive Action Learning / Creating sustainable futures: Agile Action Learning - Bernhard Hauser

Workshop 5

Action Learning, HRM & the Circular Economy - Chianu Dibia

EB 1.09

Workshop 6

Using Lego to Unblock Student Learning: Part 1 – Welcome to Theory 

Serious Lego Part 2 Workshop - Andy Clegg


Refreshment break


Papers - Chair: David Higgins


Practising change together where nothing is clear, and everything keeps changing - Cathy Sharp

AoP Action Learning for Anger Management - Gary Shepherd

AoP Using action learning to develop and educate undergraduate management degree apprentices & widening participation - Becky Quew-Jones

Papers: Adaptation - Chair: Chris Abbotts


Virtual Reflective Practice Forums: adapting action learning to the global and contextual developmental needs of Mentoring and Coaching Programme Managers -  Julie Haddock-Millar, Chandana Sanyal, David Clutterbuck

The Role of Action Learning in Fostering Adaptive and Systemic Leadership Practice in Social Work - Mary Hartog, Lucille Allain, Chris Rigby, Helen-Hingley- Jones, Julie Haddock- Millar, Melissa Richardson

So, what happens to P? Lessons from Network Action Learning - David Coghlan & Paul Coughlan



Papers: Adaptations - Chair: David Coghlan


Engineers can’t reflect: adapting action learning in engineering education to enable critical reflection - Catherine Groves, Gabrielle Orbaek-White, Patricia Xavier

Comparing Team Coaching and Action Learning as Organisational Development Methodologies for solving real-world problems - Melissa Sayer & Colm Murphy

Adapting action learning in the legal profession - Bernadette McDonald, Solicitor & Aileen Lawless

Workshop 8

Theorising - David Coghlan & Clare Rigg

Workshop 9


Can action learning help to tackle poverty? - Ruth Cook, Chelsea Marshall


Refreshment break


Papers: Chair - Cheryl Brook


How are academics using action learning? - Cheryl Brook & MIke Pedler 

Internationalisation of action learning - Daljit Kaur

Internationalisation of Action Learning: & “Kollegiale Beratung“ in Germany - is it Action Learning? - Bernhard Hauser

A tale of two ethoses: neoliberalism and action learning - John Edmonstone


EB 1.09

Multiple Problem Action Learning - Bob Cother, Director, The Action Learning Institute, Adelaide, Australia


Final Plenary & Opportunity for Reflection - Dr David Higgins, University of Liverpool

EB 1.08


deli-style packed lunch on departure


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