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Speaking truth to power

9 November 2010

I picked up this phrase most recently from pieces written by the head of the charity CEOs’ umbrella organisation ACEVO.  Although originally coined in the context of a Quaker exhortation to US administrations to move away from using force or the threat of force to combat communism in the 1950s, taken in the context of the charity sector, it’s a great description of a big part of what we do.

One aspect of what members want is, of course, members’ benefits. At ASE we know that the journals, resources on the website and insurance benefits are valued as are the reduced rates for attending the Annual Conference and so on.

But in our sector, another important factor is “voice”.  This is the idea that, through joining an organisation such as ASE, an individual can indeed speak truth to power. Let me expand on the ways in which ASE is taking seriously the provision of “voice” in the design of the proposed new governance and operational structure.

I have written before both here and in Education in Science about responses to consultations and getting involved with the input to these.  There is room for all members who would like to be involved with this conversation to take part and join the consultation groups – email us to let us know if you want to join a consultation group.

There will be those members, whose interaction with ASE is by means of the journals, maybe the Annual Conference and through the website.  We have recognised these members in designing the proposed new “assembly” of ASE.  This is the body which will (in the proposal) perform the discussion and policy formulation function that is part of what is done by Council and its Divisions currently.  If the Rule Change which will be presented to the AGM in January is passed, the smaller Trustee body will take care of the governance of ASE, while the assembly will take part in focused and purposeful discussions on matters of teaching and learning in science.  The membership of this discussion body will be drawn from ASE regions and special interest groups as the current Council is at present, but there will also be space for members to put themselves forward to attend directly, without having come through a committee route.  This move aims to widen and strengthen the voice of the new body.

So, as we go forward, ASE will be better able to construct meaningful responses and positions for consultations, knowing that we have been able to canvas the views of our members, and the membership can be sure that ASE will be a voice that is heard by the policy makers and influencers.

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