Aurora is an innovative leadership development training programme aimed at women and those who identify as women which was set up to address the under-representation of women in higher-education leadership roles. It aims to encourage women in academic and professional roles to think of themselves as leaders; to develop leadership skills and to help institutions like UCD optimise the leadership potential of women. The programme is delivered by Advance HE and it provides, in a social learning environment, core and adaptive leadership skills and knowledge over five single non-residential days, delivered over a five- month period. The programme is delivered as a combination of development days; self-directed learning from on-line resources; cross-institutional action learning sets and in-house mentoring. Each year approximately 20 participants are selected from UCD (4 of which are available to staff in the College of Health and Agricultural Sciences) in a competitive application process.
The School of Agriculture and Food Science has enthusiastically supported participation of our female staff in the Aurora programme, sponsoring three of the initial fifteen pilot participants in 2015. You can read some of their testimonies below to learn about what Aurora meant for them personally and professionally. If you are interested in taking part in Aurora, you can learn more about the programme, view participant and mentor lists and make an application on the People & Organisation Development site. Alternatively, you can contact one of UCD’s Aurora Champions: University College Dublin: Joe Carthy, Science Administration Office and Joyce McLoughlin, People & OD Manager.
School of Agriculture and Food Science - Aurora Alumni
Dr Trudee Fair, Associate Professor, School of Agriculture and Food Science
I participated in the UCD pilot Aurora programme. I did not know what to expect, but gladly applied for the opportunity. Overall, this programme completely changed my mindset about leadership in academia. It inspired me to recognize opportunities to show leadership and to encourage and support my colleagues and students. It also equipped me with the skillset and confidence to accept challenging opportunities, allowing me to progress my leadership skills and grow more confident in my ability to become a leader in academia. During the programme, I forged friendships with women from other Irish academic institutions and we remain a source of support and encouragement for each other today. I would encourage all my female colleagues to apply to participate in the programme; it is an excellent opportunity to discover your leadership qualities and advance your career in academia.
Learning from on-line resources; cross-institutional action learning sets and in-house mentoring. Each year approximately 20 participants are selected from UCD (4 of which are available to staff in the College of Health and Agricultural Sciences) in a competitive application process.
Dr Mary Forrest, Associate Professor, School of Agriculture and Food Science
I was nominated to attend the five-day Aurora programme. Listening to women share their experience of leadership and management was motivating and encouraging. Two women come to mind, Dr. Maria Hinfelaar, then President of Limerick Institute of Technology and Prof Louise Richardson, then Principal of St Andrews University, Scotland. From the Action Learning Set Day, I realised how I could look at my work and responsibilities at UCD differently and identified new opportunities to contribute to the institution. Many of my activities today have their origin in my ‘action learning set’ from that day.
The programme did extend more than five days and was all the more valuable for that with time given to self-directed learning and mentoring. My mentor was a senior academic in UCD and I found our conversations direct, helpful and good humoured.
When I attended the Aurora programme, I was the then Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning in the School of Agriculture and Food Science. I have since taken up another position as Head of Section of Environment and Sustainable Resource Management.
Dr Karina Pierce, Associate Professor, School of Agriculture and Food Science
I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the Aurora programme. I was unsure what to expect but I found the development days to be very interesting and stimulating. It was inspiring to meet so many women in leadership positions or with aspirations for taking on leadership roles in the future. Participating in the programme gave me time to consider where I want to go and why and equipped me with many practical tools that I incorporate into my work now on a regular basis.
Professor Lorraine Brennan, School of Agriculture and Food Science
I was delighted to take part in the Aurora Leadership Programme. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on leadership and the different meaning for different people. Taking time out of a busy Academic job for personal development was hugely rewarding. Upon finishing the initial course, I attended a follow-up course in the UK to further develop my leadership skills. I would highly recommend my female colleagues to apply to participate in the programme.