A workshop bringing together what was provisionally named the ‘Capacity Collective’, took place at Dunford House in Sussex from 25-27 September 2007. With around 30 participants from practitioner, donor and academic institutions, the aim was to explore some of the key challenges facing capacity development for knowledge generation, sharing and application, and to identify ways of addressing these both theoretically and practically.
An important outcome from the workshop was the acknowledgement of the critical gap between what is ‘known’ about capacity development, and what is actually done in practice. As a result, the ‘Capacity Collective’ has been initiated with three years funding between 2008 and 2011 to energise the debate around this gap. The Capacity Collective is not intending to replace or compete with the knowledge networks on capacity development, but sets out to tackle collectively, and dynamically, the challenge of developing capacity to bring about social change in a purposeful way. A second workshop was held in June 2009 that brought together practitioners and researchers representing eight action-research initiatives. These initiatives are exploring key questions around how capacity is developed in practice and how we can take a more systemic approach to capacity that addresses complexity and power. The Capacity Collective is also working with other interested individuals, organisations and networks who share an interest in exploring similar questions.