The nature of committee membership has been discussed in our Department this week. As such a role is not usually factored into workload planning, the commitment is something extra, that one wouldn’t want to take on without reflection on exactly what is involved. And since committee meetings happen, to a large extent, behind closed doors, the work involved might seem something of a mystery. Here then is an attempt to elucidate something of that mystery, from my recent experiences as a BPS Developmental Section Ordinary Committee Member.
I was elected to the role in September 2012, and now have joint responsibility for Section communications in the form of Developmental Forum, the section newsletter. I also have a meta-role in this, in the form of garnering opinions from the Section on the newsletter and communications.
The newsletter is produced three times a year, and features conference news, reviews, forthcoming books, info. on developmental labs, and prizes/grants information. Emily and I spend time asking for this information from Section members and putting it all together. My email account shows 123 messages about the last newsletter. A lot of them one liners with an attachment. An initial lack of responsivity from the Section was disheartening, but once I had the material, I loved working on it – and look at the result *bounces*
Other than the newsletter, I spend time (one morning, or one afternoon) in meetings, four times a year (usually in London) with the Section, thinking about Section matters, like conference venues, membership costs, and who should get to be invited as keynotes. Things that affect me directly. And the experience is great, as you get to know the Committee well. The lines between colleagues and committee members and friends is easily blurred, and in a good way.
So for me, the benefits are many: I get to help put together a newsletter, and to see the results of my work, I get to ask Section members what they think, to feed this back, to have a voice, and a heads-up on what’s coming next. Beyond this, I’ve also made useful researcher links with committee at Royal Holloway and Greenwich Universities, that I wouldn’t have made otherwise. The time commitment is sporadic and focused: weeks with nothing to do, and days with dedicated work, but the overall time and effort input is small.
I don’t know why everyone wouldn’t want to serve on a committee as an ordinary member at some point 🙂