Gladys Yinusa, PhD Candidate from Bournemouth University reflects on the AR+ eCO Retreat.
Gladys Yinusa is completing her action research dissertation as we speak. It titled “An action research study to improve ward practices”, and explores the influence of organisational culture in the provision of food and nutrition care for hospitalised patients. Gladys is a match-funded PhD student from the Department of Nursing Science, Bournemouth University, in collaboration with Royal Bournemouth Hospital. Gladys offered to write of her experience at the recent AR+ Gathering – and a follow up interview on issues of transformation – which she says was an opportunity to delve deeper into the practice of Action Research for Transdisciplinary Transformations with other ARTists in the AR+ community (ART). Gladys writes:
“At the AR+ Gathering I found a global community of ARTists attending from across the world. Some of us had already met because of the 4 short PreGathering zoom sessions held from January to February 2021.
The eCO Retreat gathering itself lasted for a few hours each day, 5th to the 8th of March. Members engaged in plenary conversations themed around the call to practice in reflexive learning communities with different forms of arts incorporated in the sessions, including time for reflection, meditation, dance and journaling.
Consistent with the ART principles, the gathering was an opportunity to engage in the learning process with other action researchers from various action research (AR) practices. In fact, the retreat became a form of a collective inquiry process in its own right, given that the meetings were facilitated in a participatory style- which perhaps should not be too surprising after all; it is an AR retreat.
For me, this eCO Retreat was so exciting and different from previous conferences I had attended as an early career action researcher. The golden thread interwoven and running through the sessions was the inclusivity and engagement of participant members. Two plenary sessions each day included small, highly interactive break-out groups, which created a relational space for both individual and collective learning. No doubt, it was a virtual experience and delegates in the gathering were friendly. The willingness to discuss lessons learnt from their AR practice experience across different fields was refreshing.
Through collective thinking and co-planning, respected co-facilitators led various sub-themes from key themes that related to; learning through failures by transforming self and learning the communities, examining self as a space of transformation and exploring ways to bring the ART community into a shared future. These conversations also focused on how to nourish the next generation of transformative work in fields like education, politics, healthcare, and community development.
Personally, attending the eCO retreat gathering led me to appreciate the critical role of collective knowledge sharing and collaborations as a tool to amplify transformative knowledge creation. I have had to think more deeply about my practice and contribution towards improving the healthcare system by working collaboratively with multidisciplinary healthcare professionals to explore ways to better respond to malnutrition in hospitals for older adult in-patients. Reflecting on working with an interdisciplinary team as co-researchers led me to a better appreciation of the value that lies within transformative AR and its potential to enable changes in practice.
One of my takeaways from the gathering is that the researcher role cannot be taken for granted. Hence, I left knowing to continuously expand my capacity, research networks, collaboration and to clarify my researcher identity within sound AR ethical principles. I recognise that I am learning and growing, and exposure to the AR professional learning community of practitioners and colleagues is invaluable to deepen my understanding and foster my commitment to continuous improvements.
The retreat ended with ARTists sharing their commitments after the gathering and looking forward as we prepare to meet up again on the 30th of April for the post-gathering check-in session.
Overall, it was a delight to have attended the gathering. I am inspired by the efforts to create healthy communities in both human and organisational dimensions. A special thank you also goes to the program co-design team, all the members and stewards’ contributions. I am completing my doctoral program and on course to disseminate my research findings with stakeholders and the wider audiences to promote further the sustainability of practice-based research and collective knowledge sharing in our practice.
I look forward to sharing my interview with AR+ Curator Hilary Bradbury with whom I speak about the transformation of power in healthcare institutions.
Check out a short video snippet of the AR+ Gathering – including a brief cameo by Gladys!