European members of AEE & friends becoming an AEE region
a swot analysis

To help with the discussion whether or not we should become an AEE region I have compiled a SWOT analysis based on the Euronetx email discussions over the last few months. It is meant to be a working document so amend it as you see fit during the discussions.

Any omissions of views expressed are unintentional, and remember, the arguments below are based on people’s perceptions, views and concerns, so they are not meant to be taken as facts! I wish you a fruitful discussion!
Ruth Winden (AEE member) tel in The Netherlands: +31(0)35-541.62.42

Strengths Weaknesses
  • Interest from AEE top management in and appreciation of our networks, approach and uniqueness in Europe
  • Access to a tried and tested framework for organisation & possibility to adapt structures to our (European) needs
  • Support from AEE head office
  • Experience from head office and other regions in facilitating regionalisation available (handbook etc)
  • Inclusive approach: Regions don’t exclude non AEE members from participation in activities
  • Some financial backing & lower personal financial risk for annual conference organisers
  • Lack of clarity what regionalisation really means (costs/benefits/consequences)
  • Why change what’s working?
  • Division amongst AEE Europe members/friends (about becoming a region as such; about AEE as the right partner; political views – anti-Americanism /anti-imperialism/anti-organisational etc)
  • Unclear who would take on day to day administration and how person would be compensated for time & effort
Opportunities Threats
  • Spreading the word about experiential education in Europe in another arena
  • Growth of membership/networks through higher visibility
  • Avoiding becoming professionally stale through “same old faces/having seen it all before” syndrome at conferences
  • Higher level of professionalism
  • Financial resources for annual conferences from membership payments
  • Stronger representation of AEE Europe at AEE headquarters
  • Greater influence on AEE policy decisions
  • Joint learning process for US and Europe regions – chance for new developments and crossing bridges
  • Adding value to experiential education idea & movement on a wider scale
  • Fulfilling existing legal & liability insurance issues when operating under AEE umbrella in Europe
  • Losing our uniqueness
  • Getting sucked up in an American organisation
  • Increased level of bureaucracy
  • Loss of independence
  • Losing people from our networks who are opposed to regionalisation idea
  • Losing people from our networks who can’t/don’t want to pay membership fees or be part of an (American) organisation
  • Eventually, becoming an exclusive group

How to organise ourselves for the future?

Organising the conference this year, Maurice and I have sometimes got the feeling that we have been reinventing the wheel at times. This feeling must sound familiar to some of the organisers of previous conferences. We would like to discuss if and how we can keep certain knowledge available for future organisers.

One of the things that we propose for sure, is that we will keep the website as it is set up now. This has several advantages:

  • Future organisers can use the same structure, including the registration form, with the java- and cgi-scripts that underly the web site
  • the e-mail address is now spreading, and it makes us much more accessible, rather than having new e-mail addresses every year.
  • is spreading as well, and we will probably rise higher in Google in the time to come. Being on the web with a permanent, independent address, will increase our visibility. We have experienced that a lot of new attendants have found us through the internet, some of them at the last minute.
    We propose that the website throughout the year will be used as a place to post other events as well. If people then want to advertise events, posting of the url to the Euronetx e-mail list will be sufficient.

Among the questions that we have, the most important one is how to deal with the funds that are starting to go around. For instance, we will probably have some money left in the Scholarship fund. Who is taking care of that? And what do we do once this conference starts to make a profit, even though it may be a small one?

One of the solutions might be to have some kind of real non-profit body, which has to account for the money that goes around, but we realize that some people shudder at the idea of anything official. At the same time, Maurice and I have run a big financial risk organising this conference, trying to keep the cost as low as possible. If we keep some funds in an official body, we may make the risk lower for people in the less rich countries to organise this conference.

Just some food for thought and discussion.
Jac Rongen and Maurice Zorge