The “Towards Relational Public Services” conference is the product of four years of work conducted by the Complexity and Learning Research Interest Group at Northumbria University, convened by Professor Hannah Hesselgreaves. Northumbria have been at the forefront of the development of a new complexity-informed paradigm for the funding, commissioning, management, and evolution of public service. The Complexity and Learning team undertakes action research with public and voluntary sector funders and delivery organisations to develop how this paradigm is implemented in practice, how to support the development of a Community of Practice through learning partner roles, and how complexity-informed practice could be evaluated.
Northumbria are a partner with Centre for Public Impact (CPI) on exploring complexity-informed public management and how new ideas can inform the re-imagining of government. As co-founding members of the Human Learning Systems Collaborative, a new vehicle to enable convening, collaboration and learning across and between organisations interested in Human Learning Systems, we also investigate the role of ‘Learning Partners’ in reflexive practice. Recent examples of this work include taking action research on a Human Learning Systems approach to public management for the Tudor Trust, and place-based systems change action research for Lankelly Chase Foundation, stewardship learning with Gloucestershire’s Healthy Communities Together, and the Changing Futures Northumbria programme led by Gateshead Council.