How Do You Interact With Professional Associations?

Narrow and deep, or broad and shallow?

June 21, 2018

How do you interact with the professional associations in your discipline or field?

Has your approach to interfacing with your professional association(s) changed as your career has progressed?

The reason that I’m asking is that I’m trying to make sense of my own approach to working with professional associations in my world of learning innovation.

This past week I attended 2018 SOLA+R - Summit for Online Leadership and Administration + Roundtable - an event put on by UPCEA.

I’d characterize my involvement with UPCEA as deep. This past year I became a Fellow and joined the Advisory Board for UPCEA’s National Council for Online Education.  

This narrow and deep collaboration with UPCEA has come at the expense of being able to participate in the events and meetings of other professional associations in my field.

The number of conferences that I can attend, and the time that I can devote to committee and other professional association work, is extremely limited.

This is true for everyone who works in higher ed. Our work with our national professional associations is critical for our work back on our campuses, but by necessity can only take up a very small portion of our time and energy.

There are many rewards for concentrating one’s involvement with 1 or 2 professional groups. You get to build strong relationships with the staff of the association, and the other volunteer leaders. You get to see up close how higher ed associations run. And hopefully, you get to have some impact on the national conversation in your discipline.

The cost of a narrow and deep approach, however, is all the things you miss by not going to other events and in not participating in other communities.

Some of my colleagues work to avoid leadership roles in their professional associations. They pick and choose. They are eclectic in the meetings they attend.

What has been your experience in taking on (unpaid) leadership roles in your academic and professional associations?

Do you think that our involvement as academics in professional associations follows a predictable path?

How does career progression and professional association involvement correlate and relate?

What is your approach to interacting with your academic /  professional association?


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