Growing together: RoRI’s annual Research Retreat in Kent

RoRI’s researchers, co-chairs and core team gathered at an organic farm in Kent for three days to discuss ideas for the next wave of projects, our values and working culture, and the future of research on research.

RoRI has been growing rapidly over the past few months, and with our research team now distributed across four universities in Europe (UCL, Leiden, Sheffield, Aarhus), we recognise the importance of creating opportunities to meet in person, share progress, and reflect on how we want to work together. 

Our Retreat started with participants sharing project updates and exploring each other’s work, to create links and synergies across our work programme. 

The second day was kickstarted by each participant sharing a one-minute summary of a book, paper or report they have read in the past year that they found most interesting or provocative. This exercise stimulated some vibrant ideas for future projects.

We were then joined by a couple of team-building experts from the consultancy Change Arc, for a session on working together, and ways to strengthen RoRI’s inclusion, effectiveness, collaboration and communication. We then shared what we valued about each other in small groups, fostering a deeper sense of mutual appreciation across the team.

We continued to discuss RoRI’s values on the third day, where we reviewed a draft of RoRI’s statement on working culture  (which will be discussed and finalised by our Partnership Board in the autumn). We ended the Retreat by tentatively beginning to consider options for what the future could look like for RoRI beyond its current phase. This too will be the focus for further deliberations with our Core Partners later in the year. 

Outside the formal programme, we enjoyed the glorious weather, organic farm food and historic estate at Bore Place. We also had the chance to go foraging with an experienced tutor and participate in a bat safari led by a local ecologist.

Meeting in person across different teams and projects together was a powerful reminder that RoRI is far more than the sum of its parts. The Retreat renewed and reinvigorated our collective commitment to a shared mission, and fired us up for the second half of the year.