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The puzzle of positive motivation (Members only)

Hotel Novotel, Bristol
County / Region
United Kingdom
Position on the Pathway
All categories
Fellowship Category
All Fellowship Categories
Event Type
Networking Events
Start Date
End Date
6 hours
Institution Type
Higher Education
Price From
Included in Advance HE Membership

The difference between doing something and doing something well is often down to a peculiar human quality called motivation.  Sometimes it actually influences whether or not we do something at all, and for teams, projects and organisations it can be nothing less than the breakpoint between success and failure.  But what is it?  What is this hidden energy and how does it work?  And, more specifically, how does it work and manifest itself in the context of Higher Education?

This puzzle of positive motivation and human energy lies at the heart of engagement.  Whether developing a new teaching programme, assembling a research group or working across the institution to implement a new system, structure or way of working, the elusive question that we all tussle with is ‘how do we get people engaged?’  And this challenge extends right across the academy from students to external stakeholders, and is equally vexing for both academic and professional colleagues.  Part of the puzzle is that the more discretionary the task or undertaking is perceived to be, the more significant the challenge of motivation and engagement becomes.  Like the classic strategic learner, unless persuaded otherwise people will often invest their energy where they feel they will get the highest return.

Exploring these questions will be the focus of this one-day event.  We will survey our own motivations, share insights, hear from experienced colleagues contrasting stories of motivation and engagement, consider the facets of Higher Education, ancient and modern, that influence how motivation works, review some established and emerging thinking, play with giant carrots, and work together creatively to develop our own models of motivation to help unlock this vexing puzzle.

Ahead of this event, read 'How do we get people engaged'.


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Programme - The Puzzle of Positive Motivation


Speaker Biographies 

Paul Blackmore is Professor of Higher Education at The Policy Institute at King’s College London. Previously he held a Chair at Coventry University and was Director of Centre for Academic Practice at the University of Warwick for ten years. Paul’s expertise is in strategic leadership and change in higher education, particularly curriculum change and the nature and role of professional expertise. Prestige in academic life has been a major focus in recent years with funded studies using the idea of a prestige economy, investigating issues such as academic leadership and inter-disciplinarity. His book on prestige in academic life was published in 2015.Paul is a member of the International Council of Free University of Berlin and the Governing Council of SRHE. Paul supervises PhDs and teaches at Master’s level on educational leadership and management. Paul became a National Teaching Fellowship in 2013. 

Shraddha Chaudhary, known to most people as Shades, is the Communications and Engagement Officer within Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity at the University of Exeter.  Within her role, she project manages the University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion plan and supports key projects including Provost commission and BAME Safeguarding Project. Shades was elected Deputy Vice-President International in 2016 and was the former Students’ Guild President 2017-18. She is also an advisor to the Office for Students Board through the student panel. She works on various projects which require students and staff and sometimes, the wider city community – this aligns strongly with her interest around her interest in what motivates people to galvanise for a cause and how communities are built between students and staff through Diversity and Inclusion work.

Jim Longhurst is Professor of Environmental Science and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Environment and Sustainability at UWE, Bristol. In his AVC role Jim leads the university’s sustainability agenda ensuring that sustainability considerations are present in the university’s teaching, research, campus operations and civic engagement work. In 2019 he is leading the development of UWE’s innovative Climate Action and Sustainability Strategy.

He has nearly 35 years’ experience of research leadership specialising in air quality and carbon management and has published over 250 papers, book chapters and edited works in the peer reviewed literature. His national roles include Vice President of the UK Institution of Environmental Sciences, Honorary Vice President of Environmental Protection UK, Director and Trustee of the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges (EAUC) and Director of the Bristol Green Capital Partnership CIC. Recently he was appointed the EAUC Commissioner for the Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education Leaders and has accepted an invitation from the Mayor of Bristol to co-chair Bristol’s Advisory Committee on Climate Change. The common thread linking his work is a passion for the environment and a desire to share knowledge, build partnerships and to help shape a more sustainable future.

Doug Parkin is currently Principal Adviser for Leadership and Management at Advance HE. He is responsible for a range of key open leadership programmes as well as undertaking bespoke consultancy assignments for universities and working internationally. With experience across a range of organisations and sectors, from the civil service to the arts, from large UK charities to Higher Education, he has explored and considered leadership from a wide variety of perspectives: academic leadership, educational leadership, medical leadership, the leadership of public services, leadership in the arts, and leadership in a not-for-profit, voluntary sector environment. One question that has been a common thread of Doug's work in all of these environments is how to engage human energy, particularly that elusive hidden energy called 'motivation'. His writing has explored the notion of liberating leadership, the importance of creating organisations that people enjoy and the observation regarding empowerment that 'the land of the possible is a happier place to be'.

Robiu Salisu is an experienced Higher Education practitioner with several years of experience in student engagement. He is currently the student inclusion officer responsible for improving Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) Undergraduate Students’ experiences at the University of Bristol. He provides institutional guidance on matters relating to the experience and inclusion of BAME students for staff and students. Robiu manages the Be More Empowered (BME) for Success programme, which employs twenty-four student advocates to help make a difference to the experiences of BAME students. Robiu aims to link motivation to good feelings and the importance of questioning the values the individual self holds. Robiu was awarded the University of Bristol Staff Member of the Year award for all of his work in supporting BAME students at the University at the 2019 Bristol Students’ Union Awards.

Cindy Vallance is Assistant Director, Knowledge, Innovation and Delivery at Advance HE and is an experienced higher education professional with an eighteen-year track record working with universities in the UK and internationally. Previous to this, Cindy held leadership positions for fifteen years in the commercial and not for profit sectors. She holds arts and business degrees and believes in the importance of intrinsic motivation in fostering individual creativity and organisational innovation to achieve shared purpose and collective vision. Cindy’s interest in the concept of motivation stems from working within and across a wide array of roles and sectors. Cindy is keen to explore the kinds of conversations that all too often may not happen in our work places and to encourage a more inclusive range of voices to be heard.