The DeHavilland Blog

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The conference question

Posting has been light over the past few weeks, but with good reason: the redesign of the Business/Education Partnership Forum and the interest generated by our latest research report (over 3,000 downloads to date!) have kept me busier than expected, and that's aside from the ongoing project work, which would keep me hopping even if it weren't for those independent projects.

Despite the current workload, it seems I don't know when enough is enough: I've recently found myself exploring an idea for another independent project, this one a national conference on business/education partnerships. It would be a huge undertaking, and would carry with it a fair amount of financial risk - but I think it could offer tremendous value to people who work in this area, and based on that I'm continuing to explore the idea.

What I'm considering, in essence, is a two-day conference open to all stakeholder groups involved in business/education partnerships that focuses on case studies and effective practices, with sessions led by practitioners and plenty of opportunities for sharing experiences and networking.

Certainly there are other conferences that touch on business/education partnerships: NSPRA, for example, has a strong emphasis on community outreach and partnership development at their conference, and NSFA is similarly focused on how to build strong school/community relationships.

But the conferences offered by these organizations are targeted toward their respective memberships, which ultimately make up only one slice of the partnership picture. It's certainly not a slight against them - they're doing exactly what they should be doing, which is serving their members. They're not charged with bringing other stakeholders (businesspeople, coalitions, higher education, and others) together for multi-party discussions. But those conversations should still take place, and that's what I believe is missing.

If you have thoughts you'd care to share, please contact me via email or post a comment on the blog. I'd love to hear if this is already being done, whether you think there's a need for it, and what you think it should look like in terms of strands, speakers, or anything else you'd care to suggest.

I'll post more on this as I get further along in my thinking...

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