4S Council Meeting, 13 March 2017

Members attending: Lucy Suchman, Paige Miller, Stephen Zehr, Gloria Baigorrotegui, Tania Pérez Bustos, Sara Wylie, Daniel Breslau, Oscar Maldonado, Shobita Parthasarathy, Wes Shrum, Kim Fortun, (Anita Say Chan, Steven Jackson, & Gwen Ottinger joined the meeting in progress).

Meeting called to order by 4S President Lucy Suchman at 1:00 PM US EDT


Council members should plan on a full day meeting in Boston on 29 August – the day before the conference begins.

Old Business

Budget: Paige Miller reviewed the current budget and predictions for the year.  Paige Miller reviewed the current budget and annual and one-time increases in expenses.  Miller projected a worst-case negative balance for the year, which would still keep the society, which would still keep the society within the Council approved steady state budget range.  Council questioned whether the handbook would provide a new source of income for the society.  Miller replied that royalties from the handbook are not a significant source of income – there is an initial influx and then it drops off quickly.

6S: Shobita Parthasarathy has contacted 6S representatives to start the process of generating nominations to stand for election.  6S representatives are also starting work on an agenda for the annual meeting.

Travel Grants: Miller reported on the funds available for travel grants this year.

Program Committee Update: Suchman reported that over 1200 individual paper submissions, 52 making & doing submissions, and additional panels have been received for this year’s meeting.  The response has been excellent.

Remote access provision:  Suchman indicated that some presenters might not be able to participate in person this year due to travel restrictions.  The society’s policy requires that at least one author attend and register for the conference.  However, the circumstances this year are exceptional.  Can we make remote participation available this year for individuals facing travel restrictions?  Such participation would require wifi access in meeting rooms, which would cost an estimated $30-40 thousand.  One option is to spend the money and make wifi available across the conference site.  A second option is to provide wifi selectively on a case-by-case basis.  Daniel Breslau noted that wifi is very important to conference attendees, but warned that allowing remote participation for any reason would create an opportunity to not attend and potentially change the nature of the annual meeting.  Breslau suggested that we could recognize individuals facing travel restrictions in the program, adding their abstracts, without opening up the conference for remote participation.  Suchman felt that people generally would want to attend once they’ve paid their registration fee, but agreed that we should not change the general policy.  Parthasarathy suggested supplemental tweeting and blogs for the benefit of people who can’t attend.  Sara Wylie added that making & doing presenters also need wifi and suggests adding a few dollars to the conference fee to offset costs.  Steven Jackson suggested that we approach a company to see whether support could be obtained.  Suchman concluded the discussion by asking Wes Shrum to check on expenditures for wifi and return with an estimate.

Proposal from Maurizio Meloni: Suchman reported a proposal from Maurizio Meloni to pluralize the language at some sessions with the proviso that English materials in the form of a handout or powerpoint be made available.  The goals of the proposal are to allow attendees more flexibility to participate in their chosen language and to de-center English as the dominant conference language.  Several Council members spoke in favor of the proposal, but expressed concern about the lack of critical mass in some languages to facilitate interaction within sessions. Suchman clarified that the idea is not to have separate language sessions or streams, but to integrate multiple languages into sessions with the supporting materials in English.  A motion to adopt the policy was made by Tania Pérez-Bustos.  Anita Say Chan seconded.  Further discussion: Breslau noted the potential problem of participation within sessions involving languages not generally shared, which might lead to further fragmentation.  Parthasarathy indicated a need for more detail about the motion and to emphasize that this is an experiment so we could assess the results for future years.  A decision was reached to table the issue at this meeting.  [The proposal was subsequently adopted and will be given an experimental trial at the Boston 2017 meetings.]
Suchman reported a proposal from Sandra Harding to provide legal and logistical support for non-U.S. citizens crossing the U.S. border to attend the meeting.  Suchman added that if we support the proposal, we should form an ad hoc committee to work out details.  This would likely involve forming a support network to assist travelers.  Travelers could send itineraries in advance if they think they may experience problems at U.S. Customs.  There was some Council discussion about what the society could provide to support travelers.  The discussion concluded with Suchman appointing an ad hoc committee to develop a support network.  The committee consists of Kim Fortun (Chair), Shobita Parthasarathy, Tania Pérez-Bustos, Sara Wylie, and Lucy Suchman.

Future Meetings Update: Kim Fortun reported that the program committee is being formed for the conference.  The focus of the conference will be on transnational research.  The meeting will be held at the Sydney Convention Center.  Fortun asked for input from Council members to help shape conference themes.

Publications Committee: Gwen Ottinger led discussion on a proposal for the development of an affiliation status with newly emerging journals for a fixed-term period.  This status would include minimal oversight involvement.   There was some discussion about how the new policy might affect the relationship of the society with already existing journals.  Also, should the society narrow the range of journals, taking a more active role, or broaden the range and take a less active role?  Jackson motioned to approve the policy; Pérez-Bustos seconded.  The motion passed 9-0 with one abstention.

4S Web Committee: Pérez-Bustos reported that everything is going well.  Backchannels is published weekly and other activities are ongoing.

ST&HV negotiations with SAGE: Suchman reported that negotiations are ongoing.  We have received a revised proposal from Sage, which is under consideration.

Making & Doing 2017 Committee:  Sara Wylie reported two requests from the committee: 1. Graduate student support (4 volunteers), who would receive registration waivers.  Suchman accepted this request, noting it is the society’s standard practice to provide registration waivers for student volunteers.  2) Wifi access during the Making & Doing session (also confirmed).

New Business:

Proposal for endorsement of March for Science:  Kim Fortun reported on the forthcoming March for Science, noting that several other comparable societies have endorsed it.  In discussion Council expressed concern about the particular language in the call for the march and whether there is room for critical commentary.  An ad hoc committee (consisting of Daniel Breslau, Gwen Ottinger, Kim Fortun, and Sara Wylie) was formed to review the language of the March for Science and develop a societal position.  [The society subsequently endorsed the march and developed its own statement of support.]

Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI):  Sara Wylie requested Council to support a plan to host an EDGI event at the Boston meetings.  EDGI engages in work to solidify and archive environmental data that might be in danger.  EDGI incorporates three aims: 1) Archive environmental data through hosting events to do the archival work and build a supportive network.  2) Monitor federal websites for environmental data, tracking changes in the data, and interview members of federal agencies with information about data sites.  3) Provide alternative visions of how governmental databases could be organized in the future.  Wylie reported that the general theme for the event at the 4S meeting would be Data Justice and involve exploring STS approaches to maintaining and managing data.  There is a desire to hold the event the night before the conference.  Wylie asked for 4S advertising and endorsement.  Fortun motioned that 4S support the request.  Oscar Maldonado seconded.  The motion was unanimously approved.

The meeting was adjourned at 3 PM US EDT