Oasis Co-creative Sociogram

Oasis SociogramWhat a messy looking diagram! But its the first step for me to get on paper where I think Oasis has been going in 2015 and is heading in 2016 . So here goes the much needed explanation!

Embracing Oasis within the university structures in late 2012, the university appointed an Oasis Chaplaincy Coordinator (OCC), responsible for the strategic development of Oasis (‘direction’) and an Oasis Administrative Officer (OAO), responsible for support of the centre itself (‘support’). I have placed them, as university employees, in the centre.

Their immediate role is the direction and support of the Oasis Team, comprising the Oasis Chaplaincy Coordinator, the Oasis Administrative Officer and a number of volunteers (presently twelve), together providing spiritual care to students and staff of the university. They work together as an ‘agile’ team, a ‘scrum’, with the Oasis Chaplaincy Coordinator acting as ‘Scrum Master’. They meet weekly. Team members act autonomously in accordance with agreed principles and values.

Over the past three years of its life we have noticed that there is a disparate group of students who have made Oasis their home and spontaneously offer leadership in hospitality among their peers within Oasis. Some of these we have nominated as Oasis Ambassadors as they return to their home countries taking with them their transforming experiences of hospitality and inclusion. These students become an informal extension of the Oasis Team.

Similarly, there are members of the wider community who support the vision of Oasis but are not able to commit time to be on campus as part of the team. These we have called ‘Associates’; they include religious leaders who respond to requests to support the spiritual needs of specific students, act as religious representatives at official functions or give expert advice on request. This layer also includes a number of external mentors to the Oasis Coordinating Chaplain and some members of the team.

These student and community leaders together form the third layer in the sociogram, offering both input and output in support of the Oasis vision.

Beyond them are the ‘Friends’ – perhaps distant from the day to day goings on in Oasis, but committed to aspects of the Oasis vision. They include community leaders, members of religious communities and members of the University. This group is the focus for the bi-annual ‘Oasis Celebrations’ that aim to provide a feel for the values and style of Oasis and importantly, offer a friendly opportunity for networking.

Beyond the ‘Friends’ are University stakeholders and potential stakeholders in Oasis. Inviting their collaboration is a means of embedding Oasis in the university as a university asset, and if possible avoid Oasis becoming its own ‘silo’.

For example, Oasis has a long and consistent history of collaboration with International Student Support. Oasis is an essential part of their operation. Just as Oasis has contributed to International Student Support, so they have also contributed to Oasis. Mutually strong bonds between us have contributed to solving some very tricky student situations together.

During 2015, a number of other possible collaborations have been simmering and will begin to find expression in the renovated Oasis in 2016. Oasis is likely to become a focus for encouraging academics across disciplines in their research on ‘well being’.

Health and Counselling have agreed to release one of their staff for half a day per week to sit in on Oasis Team meetings, to formulate and conduct professional skills development for the team. This strengthens the relationship between Oasis and Health and Counselling, opening fresh opportunities for health and well being initiatives on campus.

In a similar way, the University and Oasis could benefit by the engagement of a research officer to gather data about the effectiveness of Oasis, rather than Oasis feeling the need to have to justify itself. In addition it would be helpful if a member of the Office of Communication and Engagement were to be formally appointed, to collect and communicate stories from within Oasis and link with OCE to assist with the organisation of university-wide events. In this way, Oasis may avoid becoming its own self-promoting silo.

All these university stakeholders in the outer layer might form the backbone of an Oasis Advisory Group, which might report to a senior committee like the University’s Executive Committee bi-annually.

The overall picture is meant to represent a diverse, multi-layered, cross-disciplinary scrum, moving through short and ever evolving iterations toward enhancing the well being of the university and its spiritual life, and contributing its experience to the wider community.

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