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By Rob Hollister, Executive Director, Talloires Network

The 2014 Talloires Network Leaders Conference (TNLC 2014) promises to be a highly informative and energizing gathering.  Building off the Madrid 2011 gathering, Talloires Network members will gather in Cape Town to continue moving the civic engagement movement forward. I want to encourage attendees to think of it as more than an event where presentations will be made, talks will be heard, and discussions will happen.  Join me in approaching Cape Town as an opportunity to really advance our work.  TNLC 2014 can be a focus for organizing and a lever for change.  We can use the months leading up to Cape Town to intensify exchange of experience and joint planning and action.

What does “more than a conference” mean, specifically?  It can mean taking initiative to advance one’s ideas and plans, and to mobilize support for them.  It can mean organizing or participating in a working group to prepare recommendations to present at Cape Town.  For example, there’s impressive energy bubbling up among TN members on key issues like defining and measuring student learning outcomes and on amplifying South-to-North communication and learning. Can we use TNLC 2014 to really move the needle on these challenges? I think we can.

I’m impressed that several partner organizations are using TNLC 2014 to advance their individual agendas, which is highly appropriate because their missions and priorities mesh so fully with those of TN.  TN’s role is to support and reinforce their leadership.  For example, one partner organization is taking steps to organize an exchange among universities around how to strengthen rewards and incentives for professors to do engaged-teaching and research.  This can lead to TNLC 2014 making a real difference on that issue.

In addition to proposing a conference session on a particular topic, I invite you to take initiative to interact leading up to TNLC 2014 with other members on that subject and bring your proposals for action to Cape Town.  Let us know how we can support your activities leading up to December 2.