By Ana I. Faustino, Falling Walls Engage

On 20 and 27 July we hosted an online Impact & Sustainability Workshop for the community members and core network of Falling Walls Engage. During the workshop, participants were able to learn about the relevance of Impact and Sustainability Planning, tools one can use to plan and evaluate impact, and how a project’s sustainability contributes to its impact on the target audience, involved actors, as well as wider society and environment. Both sessions of the workshop were very hands-on, with participants having the possibility to enrol in practical exercises where participants could apply Impact & Sustainability tools to specific Science Engagement initiatives (including their own), besides learning about Impact & Sustainability theoretical background. The tools mentioned above can be found on the Falling Walls Engage Resources page.

The workshop counted 24 participants from 17 countries – Germany, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Philippines, Canada, Greece, Italy, Portugal, United Kingdom, Botswana, Mexico, Bolivia, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Russia, France. Due to the effective co-learning space provided by the workshop, participants were also able to share their individual perspectives on the topics at hand, which enabled an enriching discussion on positive experiences and challenges faced when developing and implementing impact and evaluation frameworks in diverse parts of the globe.

“At the start of planning a Science Engagement project, one might often not have a clear plan of the anticipated outputs, outcomes and other relevant aspects that influence the impact and sustainability of a project. This workshop introduced me to a variety of tools that can help me clearly define my plan of work for a project to ensure the best outcomes […].”

Impact & Sustainability Workshop participant

On the first session (20.07.22), participants started by sharing how they plan for the Impact and Sustainability of their Science Engagement practice in breakout rooms. This allowed for a quick breaking of the ice, while already prompting exchange on the topic of the workshop. Then, after a quick overview on the general motivations to join the workshop, participants were presented with a theoretical background about “What is Impact?”, followed by the presentation of the tool Impact Planning, that reflects on goals, target group/s, format and content of one’s Science Engagement initiative, and sets the ground for the reflection on the different levels of change one wants to promote. After the presentation, participants had some time to do a group exercise where they could use the tool in an exemplary Science Engagement initiative.

The second half of the first session of the workshop included:

  • The presentation of the Theory of Change tool – an impact planning and reflection framework that makes one think about outputs (direct results of Science Engagement initiatives), outcomes (short-term changes on your target group/s as result of Science Engagement initiatives) and impact (long-term societal change).
  • Theoretical background on impact indicators – what they are, tips for formulating good indicators, as well as examples of indicators for outputs and outcomes.
  • A group exercise to learn how to use the Theory of Change tool.

In the second session of the workshop (27.07.22), participants started by sharing their homework assignments (they were asked to develop a Theory of Change for their Science Engagement initiatives) with all participants. This was a good reflection to understand the benefits of the tool for impact planning, as well as discuss doubts on its implementation. This exchange moment was followed by a Miro exercise, where participants could reflect on the impact that Falling Walls Engage had on their Science Engagement practice (from visibility to expertise and collaborations), as well as share their ideas on how Falling Walls Engage can further empower their practice – many participants mentioned the importance of international activities that promote networking, collaborations and capacity-building.

"Very useful and intense workshop, thank you! Great that you shared the materials, especially the presentations and the tools, that I really wish to use in the future.”

Impact & Sustainability Workshop participant

The last block of the second session included theoretical background on project sustainability and the presentation of these tools:

  • Impact & Sustainability Canvas – a matrix that supports project coordinators / managers to build an impact & sustainability plan, envisioning the impact of initiatives, while also evaluating their economic feasibility and long-term term sustainability.
  • Evaluation Decision Tree – this tool ensures that evaluation has the indicators from the Theory of Change in consideration, while focusing on methods and tools on how to measure change.

The theoretical moment above was followed by a group exercise to learn how to use the Impact & Sustainability Canvas and an overview on Evaluation & Evaluation Methods/Tools.
Before the end of the session, participants still learnt about Zines – reflective and creative evaluation tools which follow a journalling approach through words, images and craft materials –, how to make them and their relevance as an evaluation tool.

After the workshop, we asked participants what they thought of the sessions, both in terms of satisfaction and expertise acquired. We couldn’t be happier with their feedback! From the ones that came back to us, 100% were very satisfied/satisfied with the workshop, and all mentioned to have acquired new knowledge/skills/experience regarding Impact and Sustainability Planning.

We want to thank all workshop participants for their presence, inspiring discussions and frutifull exchange on Impact and Sustainability topics. We hope the tools are useful to all of you and that they help you and your teams achieve a greater impact with your Science Engagement initiatives.