Recently I was in a meeting with Ken L. Ross, Jr., FAIA, Interim Vice President, Design & Practice here at AIA. I asked him if continuing education advanced the profession of architecture. As an affirmative, he described how continuing education elevated the profession from one defined by drawings only, to a profession of knowledge. It was the first time I heard the architectural profession described in such a way.
On an annual basis I compile a random list of member architects who have not completed the continuing education requirement for the previous year. Although many of them ultimately complete the requirements, and do so without too many complaints, I rarely hear accolades about continuing education from this sub-member base. I do not hear them reference continuing education as a means to advancing the architecture profession.
However, within the past couple of months I heard many other architects at various meetings voice how they value continuing education. They reference that firms and other design industry stakeholders mold a culture of learning through which knowledge is created, and they create a network of professionals through which knowledge flows.
Member associations exist to support the goals of their members. They are tasked with creating a structure that feeds the members’ creative and professional goals. As a result I theorize that employees within associations create a supportive culture for members. Some employees may be tasked with publishing articles, and research, and some may be tasked with advocating on behalf of the profession, but most of the employees within associations are tasked with building the foundation for their members to continue these types of research or advocacy projects.
The CES department supports those who advance the architecture profession to be a profession of knowledge. Our contribution to the advancement of knowledge is indirect, and is more of a contribution to the process. Within the AIA CES we create the foundation for educational providers to offers courses that members attend to support their careers. If members are inspired by these courses, they repurpose the information in a way that supports the architectural profession to be one of knowledge.