By Emily Fisher
How long have you been a member of ISECN? Have you ever wanted to become more involved? (What does it mean to be an “involved ISECN member”?) Maybe you have seen announcements for different open volunteer positions and wondered if there’s a way to get involved that does not involve (a) either writing for the newsletter or (b) being responsible for an entire geographical region as a regional coordinator. Maybe you have also wondered how we can, as ISECN members, get actively involved in health promotion research and practitioner discussions.
I hope that by writing a little bit more about my personal experience with ISECN and through highlighting others’ experiences, you will discover new ways you can further engage in ISECN. Back in 2008, as a student at the University of Bergen, I heard about this group ISECN. I knew I wanted to expand my professional network and this seemed like the perfect place to do it. I had no idea how I could be involved, what sort of skill set they required, or even what I could contribute to ISECN, but I wanted to try. So, with nothing more than the idea of wanting to be a part of something, I had a phone call with then-Chair (and ISECN founder), Hope Corbin. Out of that conversation, the idea for the newsletter was born- and since then my editing skills have vastly improved, the newsletter has expanded far beyond its original scope and relevance, and there are many more beyond the team of 1 (me!) that started it.
The situation I described above is not unique: our entire team is made up of individuals that have begun their work in ISECN through simply wanting to be engaged and letting ISECN leaders know about their interest. Some first got involved through the New Media group, which is a working group around how to use technology (like Twitter, Facebook, and the web) to expand the reach of ISECN and health promotion. Members of the New Media working group were able to use those skills beyond ISECN work when they were an active part of the live coverage at the IUHPE World Conference in Geneva in 2010. Others have gotten more involved in ISECN after finding out about a working group on Health Promotion in Africa.
I would like to describe this “working group” process, with the Health Promotion in Africa Working Group as an example, because this type of involvement is less advertised and joining (or starting) a working group takes initiative on the part of an individual member. It is also much less structured than the ISECN volunteer positions you may have seen advertised in the newsletter for editor or regional coordinator. The Health Promotion in Africa working group is the group whose work you can see highlighted in the March 2012 Health Promotion Connection or under the “Health Promotion in Africa” tab on this website. They started meeting over the free online service, Skype, because they were all over the world (Ghana, Kenya, Brussels, Canada and the US…), but had a common interest in Health Promotion and Africa. They began the group by a discussion, chose some focus areas within these broad topics, and each did some background reading. They then sent each other articles to read and discuss before each conference call. The goal of the group is connection, idea generation, and tangible output: the article you see published here is a direct result of their group work and they hope to present other work through publication or at future conferences.
So, you may be wondering- where are these working groups? Why don’t we hear more about them? (I asked the same question when I joined!) The answer is pretty simple- it takes one interested person to talk with a member of the leadership team. Members of the leadership team can support an interested member in beginning a working group, help with advertising the group in the newsletter, and show you how to use Skype as a tool. But it takes members who are interested in topics and have initiative (are excited about a topic) for a working group to form.
I hope you begin to think about how to contribute on this level through ISECN: it’s a great way to make professional connections all over the world and to really expand the scope of your work. Contact any member of the ISECN leadership team if you want to learn more!
Published: March 2012 HPC