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Introducing the BSI Teaching Affinity Group: a forum for immunology educators

cartoon image displaying teaching & education

The Teaching Affinity Group of the British Society for Immunology (BSI) is a dedicated group focused on promoting excellence in immunology education and nurturing the next generation of immunology educators. Under the leadership of its first co-chairs, Professor John Curnow from the University of Plymouth and Dr Nigel Francis from Cardiff University, the Group aims to create a supportive community for educators and researchers in immunology. Here John and Nigel tell us about the Group’s aims, future plans and how to get involved.

Rooted in education

The Group evolved following a couple of informal meetings at successive BSI Congresses. Although initially conceived as an initiative to address the need for a specialist group focusing on immunology education, the remit has expanded following these initial discussions. Beyond the focus on education in a rapidly evolving higher education sector, the primary aims of the group are to ensure that BSI members are kept up to date on innovative teaching practices and that curricula are relevant and engaging for students at all levels of study.

The Group helps provide a platform for educators and researchers involved in immunology teaching to connect, collaborate and share their experiences, knowledge and resources. These networking opportunities will help create a stronger, more cohesive community of immunology educators. The BSI Teaching Affinity Group also offers support for immunology educators in their career progression, providing opportunities for professional growth, training and recognition.

A collective voice

Sharing best practices is a central tenant of the group, and in facilitating the exchange of best practices, we aim to improve the overall quality of immunology education. This includes the development and dissemination of innovative teaching approaches, authentic and engaging assessment techniques, and resources that cater to diverse learner needs and preferences.

Looking to the future term, we will act as a collective voice for immunology educators, advocating for the importance of immunology education and its relevance to broader scientific and medical disciplines.

This work will be overseen by the newly appointed committee helping to support our work as co-chairs. You can take a look at the inaugural committee on the Group's webpage.

A positive start

Our first formal meeting was held via Zoom, where former winners of the BSI Immunology Teaching Excellence Award were invited to present their teaching innovations. This was followed up with a breakfast meeting at the BSI Congress 2022 (Liverpool) where the initial aims of the group were outlined to around 50 attendees. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with many members expressing an interest in joining and supporting the group. Anyone who is interested in joining the Group can do so via their BSI membership dashboard (please go to ‘More about you’ and select ‘Teaching Affinity Group’) or by contacting the committee members.

The future looks bright

The future of the group is an exciting one with several projects already planned to help design immunology curricula for different disciplines and dissemination of these ideas via a session at the BSI Congress 2023 in Belfast. We will also be working towards a blended two-half-day conference/workshop in 2024. More details of these will be circulated by the BSI closer to the time.

By offering opportunities for networking, collaboration, and sharing best practices, the BSI Teaching Affinity Group strives to enhance the quality and impact of immunology education across all levels of academia and industry. We are very keen to expand the reach and impact of the group and welcome ideas from the BSI membership to help enhance immunology education across the BSI network – we’d love to see many in the community get involved!

Professor John Curnow and Dr Nigel Francis
BSI Teaching Affinity Group Co-chairs

Find out more:

You can find out more about the BSI Teaching Affinity Group and get involved with their activities here.