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Original Strategy Document
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BSG Strategy 2009-2014:

‘Raising the Profile of Ageing Research’

Introduction:

This document presents a 5 year strategy for the BSG outlining the aims of the Society and key activities designed to achieve the strategy over the period. This update focuses on a number of priority areas where the BSG believes it can make the most significant improvements in our performance in order to: advance the Society’s aim of promoting the understanding of human ageing and later life through research and communication; and to foster the application of this knowledge to the improvement of the quality of life in old age.

The BSG’s Strategic Plan serves as our road map and guides us in establishing the annual goals we need to meet along the way. It helps us assess how far we have come toward achieving our strategic goals and recognizes where we need to adjust our approaches to achieve better results. We have deliberately selected a time frame of 5 years rather than 2 years (as previously) to ensure longer term planning and stability in taking initiatives forward.

Over the 2008/9 academic year, this strategy has had full consultation and discussions with the Executive Committee and with the President-elect (Prof. Miriam Bernard). The strategy has also been shaped by comments from the BSG Advisory Board: a new group established to provide advice on external issues and to act as a lobbying group for the Society. We now welcome comments from our members in shaping the way forward for the BSG. Please contact the Secretariat with any comments. 

Context:

Social and behavioural sciences in general face a difficult time given the current economic situation. It is imperative that the BSG offers good value to its membership as well as developing a greater lobbying function and greater visibility in discussions around social sciences and ageing research. Although we acknowledge that this should be in consultation with the British Council on Ageing (BCA) we also recognise that the BSG has a distinctive role to play within and outside of BCA.

To facilitate the revision and development of our strategy, the Executive Committee have changed the format of its meetings such that every day-long meeting now considers strategic issues in detail, whilst the business of the Society is restricted to no more than two hours. The Executive also undertook a scenario planning exercise over its first two meetings (Oct 2008 and Jan 2009). The objective of this exercise was to identify drivers for change and build a narrative for the future of the Society identifying the key areas to focus on in the new strategy.

 Some key trends identified through this exercise include:

  • the diversity of the society in terms of disciplines and people;
  • the importance of engaging practitioners if we are to expand;
  • the need to demonstrate that we are an exemplar of multi-disciplinary and multi-professional practice;
  • the importance of working with other discreet disciplines and retaining their interest;
  • the increasing role of business and product development in ageing research;
  • the importance of identity and visibility for the Society;
  • the need to identify clearer benefits for members;
  • the importance of a more active engagement of society members in the business of the society;
  • the need for more events to engage the membership;
  • the increasing relevance of demonstrating our impact;  
  • the need to develop a funded national office and capacity building particularly in relation to early career researchers.

As a consequence of our discussions, it has been decided to focus on a number of key areas for the Society as detailed below. In addition we will retain - for the present - some of the working groups outlined in the previous strategy (2006-8), namely Conference Liaison, Publications and International Relations (see appendix for list of all other groups). Whilst membership is crucial to the survival of the Society, it is evident that previous initiatives have resulted in stability rather than growth. Consequently the Membership group will be maintained but not prioritised and incorporated under the Identity group. The National Activities working group has been disbanded with its functions incorporated into other areas of the strategy.

Furthermore, the refocusing of the strategy is also leading to changes within the BSG Executive. The roles of Executive Committee members have been further defined with the work of the secretariat concentrating on the operational management of the Society; whilst the role of the President (supported by the President-elect) will focus on the external profile; including work with the IAGG; AcSS; ESRC and other national and international bodies.

Aim of the strategy: To position the BSG as a visible world leader in the development of ageing research.

Objectives:

We wish to ensure that the objectives and activities outlined in the strategy are achievable given the voluntary contributions of the Executive and the Society’s membership. The objectives of the Strategy are:

  1. To further develop the national and international profile of the society;
  2. To ensure that the society contributes to strengthening the social sciences;
  3. To advance the Society’s aim of promoting the understanding of human ageing and later life through research and communication;
  4. To foster the application of this knowledge to the improvement of the quality of life in old age.

Key areas of activity:

Five main areas of activity have been identified and working groups established under the leadership of members of the Executive. Membership of these groups is dynamic and overlapping..

Advising/lobbying

An Advisory Group has been established to take this forward. This group will:

  • Identify opportunities to build capacity and funding;
  • Provide BSG with an overview of European and world wide research agendas and strategic developments with other funders;
  • Explore key interdisciplinary linkages;
  • Work closely with the research councils, charitable organisations and other funders in highlighting the achievements of
    the BSG community in order to raise the profile of the Society and recognise the discipline;
  • Explore lobbying activity with political parties.

            Year 1 activities:

  • Establish advisory group (Chris Phillipson, Tony Warnes, Maria Evandrou, Judith Phillips as President and Miriam Bernard as President - elect);
  • Plan series of meetings and action points;
  • Meet with the ESRC, other funders, Lord Sutherland, Alan Walker and UKARF;
  • Advise on developing an impact brochure for the Society.

 Year 2 activities

  • Prepare a case for gerontology as a recognised discipline by the ESRC and seeks recognised HESA code;
  • Talk to political leaders to raise awareness of  ageing research issues;
  •  Hold regular discussions with ESRC Chief Executive and other key funders.

 Lead Responsibility:  Miriam Bernard with Judith Phillips

Developing an impact brochure for the Society

A key message coming from the Research Councils is the importance of the impact of research. This is especially important in the light of the current economic crisis; the inevitable cutbacks in support for social research; and the forthcoming Research Excellence Framework. To enable gerontology research to have high visibility and demonstrate impact, this working group will:

  • Produce a brochure highlighting the impact of members’ research through case studies.
  • Distribute the brochure to key stakeholders e.g. RCs and government; opinion formers; media; interested organisations;
  • Develop guidance for members on impact for the REF.

 Year 1 activities:

  • Establish an impact group;
  • Seek sponsorship and support for an impact brochure;
  • Design and collect information and case studies on impact of research;
  • Communicate the essential components of impact for membership through a BSG seminar/workshop.

Year 2 activities

  • Produce impact booklet;
  • Market and communicate key impact messages with relevant stakeholders e.g. ESRC and other funders; government.

 Lead Responsibility: Judith Phillips

Identity

In improving the visibility of the Society our identity (centrally around social and behavioural aspects of ageing) needs to be strengthened and broadened to be inclusive of different groups in gerontology. Working with other societies and interest groups will be important in this vision. This working group will:

  • Design and organise a membership survey to capture the breadth of membership interests and activities in the Society
  • Collate information for the website
  • Develop an identity statement for the Society which is new and has vision
  • Link with other organisations and explore synergies and collaborations.

Year 1 activities:

  • Establish an identity and web group;
  • Collate membership survey
  • Link with Impact brochure group
  • Develop the web site
  • Present an identity statement

Year 2 activities

  • Scope the potential for linkages with other societies
  • Develop links with the media

Lead Responsibility: Sheila Peace

Building capacity- Early researchers in ageing (BSG-ERA)

The future of the society rests with our early career researchers. We need to ensure that they are integrated into the BSG and get value out of its activities. The objectives for BSG-ERA are to:

  • Formalise the way ERA operates and manages its business;
  • Explore ways of building capacity;
  • Identify potential members from a range of disciplines;
  • Publicise more widely the benefits of membership and its activities;
  • Consider specific issues for post-graduate students and post-doc experience.

Year 1 activities:

  • Identify resources for the ERA group;
  • Support annual conference;
  • Revise the constitution to enable representation from ERA;
  • Develop an initiative to increase membership benefits;
  • Establish links with Australian ERA group, ARGHE, GSA groups

Year 2 activities

  • Develop ERA exchanges
  • Scope specific opportunities for post doc and post graduate students within the society

Lead Responsibility: Christian Beech

Financing the strategy:

Sponsorship is a key area of activity needed to underpin the strategy. BSG’s financial position is stable at the moment but, as we move into a time of economic turbulence, we will need to prioritise and strategically position the Society.  The objectives of this group are to:

  • Seek ethical sponsorship;
  • Develop a consortium of funders (private and voluntary sectors);
  • Establish a relationship with business and industry to support society activities.

Year 1 activities:

  • Seek expert advice in relation to strategy on sponsorship;
  • Identify companies and seek sponsorship.

Year 2 activities

  • Set up an industry/business group.

Lead Responsibility: Judith Phillips


Conclusion

There are a number of challenges ahead for the Society particularly in seeking sponsorship as well as retaining members in a difficult economic climate. However there are opportunities and strengths on which to build: ageing is set to remain as a key theme in population change; the society can be creative and innovative in a number of ways to attract sponsorship and interest from high level stakeholders; as a discipline we are working together and collaborating on a number of fronts. Consequently we are positioning our selves for growth over the 5 years - both in membership and profile - in order to be a leading gerontological society able to influence with government and research councils and with a high public profile.