For the past several years the Impact Assessment Special Interest Section has hosted two informal ‘working groups’ - on Social Impact Assessment and on Strategic Environmental Assessment. Both groups have been active in sharing good practice, holding workshops and drafting submissions to the EPBC Act Review.
Our host SIS has suggested perhaps we need to formalise our existence and embrace how we have been actually operating - as a ‘community of practice’ as compared to a ‘working group’ which usually have a defined project and timeframe.
So what’s in a name? A lot actually…..
Formal and informal ‘communities for practice’ have been around for several decades to provide a method for practitioners to share information and learn from each other. The literature (Lave and Wenger (1991)), talks about a learning theory with a strong relationship to the social construction of knowledge. It is different than a community of interest because it is about sharing and learning from practice.
Both EIANZ working groups have operated as ‘safe space’ to share knowledge and practice on current and emergent issues and opportunities in our focus areas. This name change recognises our maturation within the Institute and the broader profession.
Check out the SEA and SIA webpages, to see the types of conversations we have been having. We always welcome new members so please let us know if you would like to join our discussions, share ideas and improve your practice in SIA and/or SEA.
Carolyn Cameron, FEIANZ, convenor, SEA Community of Practice
Rachel Maas, MEIANZ, CEnvP convenor, SIA Community of Practice