What Does Being a Learned Society Mean?

Article by Jarka Glassey

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ICHEME’s strategy, as reviewed and reaffirmed this summer with the newly-elected Board of Trustees, puts two functions at the heart of IChemE: firstly, its role as a qualifying body (reviewing and qualifying members, approving training and accrediting degree courses), and secondly, its role as a learned society.

When I first got involved with IChemE in 1995, it was to support my own development as a chemical engineer and to contribute to the discipline as a whole as it addressed the grand societal challenges. I was keen to work with like-minded colleagues from diverse fields and geographies and learn from them.

As I became more involved in both my local member group (Tyneside), and the Education SIG, my passion for the profession grew. I saw the ambition of the IChemE membership, and Institution as a whole, as generating meaningful, applicable and trusted knowledge. For me, not only was this the most natural way to be a chemical engineer but it was also one of the fundamental objects of the Institution: to be a learned society. But what does it mean to be a learned society? More to the point, what does it mean to be a learned society that is led by members, supports members, and serves society? And – assuming we have a broad consensus on the answer to these questions – how do we set our priorities, develop specific goals, and put in place adequate and sustainable support to allow us to reach these?

Article by Jarka Glassey

IChemE vice president, technical

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