The issue of how to better serve our Unassigned Members and to better integrate them into the AIA is one of the key concerns of the AIA International Region board. The following article outlines some of our ideas and acts as a call to members who wish to be more involved.
Unassigned Members are AIA members who live/work outside of the US and who are not a member (i.e., ‘assigned’) of one of the International Region’s 7 chapters (UK, Continental Europe, Hong Kong, Middle East, Japan, Shanghai, Canada). The AIA is a grassroots organization and much of the benefit of AIA membership comes through the individual chapters as this provides a forum for networking, attending lectures, building tours and the like. This local forum of an established chapter does not exist for Unassigned Members. The International Region is geographically diverse, and we have members in nearly 50 countries. How do we, as the AIA IR, create an environment that addresses the needs of these many Unassigned Members?
The value of face-to-face contact is important, and where possible is the best means of communication. Towards this end we have instituted an annual International Region conference that gives an opportunity for members to meet up. Last year was Singapore, this year Shanghai, and then followed by Dubai and London. We are also working to build up a more comprehensive international program at the AIA National Convention, which together with the IR conference gives 2 opportunities per year for members to meet. However, we realise that travel is expensive, and only a small percentage of the membership at any one time can attend these conferences, and therefore we need to find additional ways to reach out to Unassigned Members.
We are looking to increase the use of electronic conferencing, and towards this end we are organizing a series of trial webinars. Topics in development include water conservation issues in South Africa, the integration of BIM into architectural practice, and international procurement and contract issues. The idea is that these would be broadcast live, but also be recorded so that those in all time zones are able to view the broadcast and be able to obtain CES credits. The live broadcasts would include Q&A sessions.
We also hold conference calls for Unassigned Members who wish to be more active in the AIA. In future, there may be other conference calls, perhaps quarterly, where the format is more of a ‘Town Hall’ allowing an open forum of issues.
We are looking to share best practice and key events from the IR chapters with all IR members. We are trialling the use of video recording of IR chapter events with the idea that these are made available via the IR website, and that these would also attract CES credits.
Similarly, we are looking to tap into IR Chapter resources and knowledge to make these available to all of the IR. For example, the UK chapter has an excellent emerging architect section that includes assistance with studying for the ARE, and for the loan of study materials. We are looking through this formum to have IR-based subscriptions to the very expensive study materials services, and make these available to young architects throughout the IR.
We will start instituting a series of ‘Country Representatives’ in countries where there are pockets of membership. The idea is that local events can be organized allowing networking and obtaining CES credits. Some of these events can ‘piggy-back’ off other architectural events allowing AIA members to get US-based CES credits in order to maintain their US licenses and/or AIA membership. The idea is also to build and maintain strong and positive links with the various professional associations in each country, as the AIA, as an organization, is a guest in that country. The Country Representative initiative will take time to roll out, as the legal and political issues in each country need to be researched and satisfactorily addressed.
Separate from the above we are looking to improve communication generally to members. This also includes a deeper use of social media including platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
The AIA IR functions as an organization because of architects like you who have a passion for the profession.If you would like to get involved, even if only to run a single program, please get in touch with me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or on WhatsApp +44 7815043921
Lester Korzilius; FAIA, RIBA
AIA International Region - First Vice-President, 2018-19