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Defining moment for membership

Reported by Damian Arnold

A NEW definition of civil engineering has been approved by Council in an effort to attract wider membership of the Institution.

Civil engineers now officially practise 'improving and maintaining the built and natural environment to enhance the quality of life for present and future generations'.

The new definition runs alongside the Tredgold definition of 1821 which starts by saying that civil engineering is 'the art of directing the great sources of power and nature for the use and convenience of mankind'.

It was thought that the traditional statement no longer reflected 'the breadth and width of what civil engineers do'.

The new statement - prepared by the Future Framework implementation team - will blueprint the drive to welcome specialist players such as hydrologists, surveyors and transport planners into the ICE family.

A Council paper offering a 'generic solution' to widen the membership was also approved, and it is hoped that, combined with the new statement, this will finally wind up a debate that has been 'rumbling around in the Institution for years'.

Discussion of widening membership dominated November's Council meeting, and the paper was approved on 15 December on the proviso that more work be done to widen all classes of membership.

Concerns surfaced during consultation with local associations in November. Responses reflected the view that the paper placed too much emphasis on corporate members. ICE President Roger Sainsbury, presenting the paper, agreed to change the word 'member' to 'qualified member'.

Professional Development division was then asked to take forward the work of making the widening membership initiative inclusive of all grades.

But PD director Richard Larcombe said that the key to success was the external promotion of a process which was already largely in place.

He said: 'We have had in place access for people from wider disciplines but we have been very bad about publicising it. That is the paradigm shift.

'In the future we need to involve the communications division because there is a strong promotional element to what we are doing here.

'We are also anxious to liaise with the Future Framework commission's promotions working group.'

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