Reflections on the CIES Conference Part 2

CIES and Special Interest Groups

During the CIES SIGs open houses a gentleman came to our table (the Indigenous Knowledge and the Academy – IKA), and remarked “I’m a member of your SIG. I registered and paid your dues”….I responded jokingly, ‘welcome home’…He asked “What can you do for me? What do I get from this SIG?”

He was not the only person to ask this question at the conference. There were many other discussions on the role of SIGs in the association and why they exist. I think SIGs serve three main purposes:

  1. i. They form communities for scholar/members to pursue topics that are of interest to a number of people but may not necessarily be of interest to every member of the association.
  2. They are venues for people to discuss ideas more intimately and deeply
  3. They can help the association grow by offering members ways to continue to engage post conference.

I do not think the association in its current form uses SIGs effectively. The communication system between SIGs and the leadership is not always clear and the guidance and expectations of the SIGs are inconsistent. Of course there are some changes happening. The communication and collaboration between SIGs at this conference was better than in the past. For example, at the DC conference the IKA SIG collaborated with other SIGs on panels as well as on hosting a reception. I hope these types of interactions continue especially given that a typical CIES member is involved in more than one SIG. Most importantly, such engagements will serve to break down silos within the association and hopefully promote the spirit of collaboration beyond the conference.

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