Who certifies the certifiers? Who accredits the accreditors?
Recently I found out that public engagement is beginning to be standardized. Meaning there is an association that protects, extols, and exemplifies the practice of the “profession.”
Like any standardization process, it leads to professionalization, focus on ethics, foundations of practice, accreditation, certification.
My question is Who certifies the certifiers? Who accredits the accreditors? Who makes the rules about these things? Who will benefit from the standardization? The practitioners, the association, the clientele, the industry?
Take the case of the safety movement. One accident in the family farm involving deaths of small children and the next thing you know, there are rules, more rules, and stringent rules on safety in the farm that actually creates more risks, work, and expenses utterly not safe, secure, effective to the farm owners! This is what I abhor and this is hopefully not what this public engagement standardization is going to be.
Standardization is only good as far as when lives of people are at stake like flying commercial planes, doing work in hazardous environments, undertaking heart surgery, etc. Unlike lawyers, doctors, engineers, and architects whose practice should be well-regulated for obvious reasons, public engagement is neither here nor there- it is a narrow profession as a profession, it is an approach, a methodology, a means to an end. Public engagement for whom, for what purposes and objectives, and for whose interests? Public engagement is context-based. It does not stand alone. In the grand scheme of things, there are many factors that operate with public engagement. It comes with other tools, approaches, and considerations.
Regulation will only suffocate the practitioners and inhibit the practice. The client and those that use the services of public engagement practitioners will judge what is acceptable and not acceptable, what is subterranean and not. Leave the sector alone. Let the best and the brightest thrive.
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