The Active Bystander training programme aims to empower staff and students across the College community to challenge poor behaviours, and bring about cultural change through the reinforcement of messages defining the boundaries of unacceptable behaviour.

Many individuals with problematic attitudes are likely to think their behaviour is normal if no one confronts it, and this can often be reinforced by cultural messages. Some might not care their behaviour causes harm to others, but some might not even realise.

If we constantly reinforce messages about behaviour that is unacceptable, this puts considerable pressure on people to re-think their behaviour. So any level of inappropriate or unacceptable behaviour should not be ignored.

Working collectively we can bring about change and create a safe and supportive community for all.

As part of our commitment to our staff and student community, I'm pleased to support the Active Bystander initiative. People are at the heart of Imperial's success. It's our responsibility collectively to create and nurture an environment which is safe, supportive and free from all forms of bullying and harassment. This initiative is an important step forward."

Professor Ian Walmsley


Training course

Over 3,000 staff have attended the training and we are now rolling out the programme to our student community.

Nic Hammarling, Partner and Head of Diversity at Pearn Kandola, reviewed the programme:

Nic Hammarling"As an occupational psychologist who has worked with Imperial College over several years on a different behaviour change programme, it is clear that the Active Bystander programme has had a significant impact at the individual level.

Three elements in particular are indicative of significant behaviour change. Firstly, as part of the evaluation, participants are able to cite many varied, and (critically) specific, examples of how they have applied the learning. This level of applying learning is key to behaviour change.

Secondly, participants gave examples of how they had applied their learning in personal circumstances rather than simply in the University setting. This is indicative of a level of general attitudinal and behaviour change that illustrates an internalised skill development, rather than one people feel only applies in the setting where their learning took place.

Thirdly, participants are consistently and accurately able to identify which of the four strategies covered in the training they applied in reality. Again this indicates that participants are genuinely applying their learning from the session. A further, and important consideration, is the fact that people reported feeling more confident in challenging inappropriate behaviour having completed the session.

This, combined with the fact that the session content appears to involve elements of the theory of planned behaviour, indicates that the critical mass approach to rollout adopted by Imperial College is likely to have a significant impact beyond individual behaviour change to a University-wide cultural shift."

Read more feedback from participants

Training contact

For more information about the programme or if you would like to organise training in your department please contact Scott Solder directly on or +44(0)7590 307 039.

Diary room - share your success story

We encourage you to share your experience of being an active bystander and help empower others.

Please share details about any incident where you've made use of your training and taken action. Selected stories are published on the website, so please don't provide any information that could compromise an individual's confidentiality.

For more information about the programme, please contact Ireti Webb.