4S Council Meeting, 16 December 2019

In attendance: Stephen Zehr, Wes Shrum, Bryn Seabrook, Katie Ulrich, Hsin-Hsing Chen, Wes Shrum, Paige Miller, Roopali Phadke, Duygu Kaşdoğan, Aadita Chaudhury, Noortje Marres, Lesley Green, Teun Zuiderent-Jerak, Noela Invernizzi, Amanda Windle, Joan Fujimura, Angela Okune

Meeting called to order by Joan Fujimura at 8:10 am US EST

Minutes: The November 2019 Council meeting minutes were considered.  There was some discussion about detailed minutes becoming part of the archive.  Would that reduce the freedom of Council members to speak their minds?  Joan Fujimura prefers detail due to its archival value.  Noortje Marres motioned to approve the minutes with suggested amendments.  Amanda Windle seconded.  The minutes were unanimously approved.

Prague Meeting: Since EASST represents Europe while 4S is global, Joan Fujimura asked Council to advertise and encourage participation from people in the global south.  Fujimura reported that there is a higher rejection rate for open panels this year, which may violate the 4S tradition of being open about panel acceptance.  Decisions were not due to spatial constraints.  Wes Shrum reported that the amount of space for sessions is almost unlimited.  The concern was expressed that rejecting proposals might reduce levels of participation.  Fujimura is working with the local committee about opening the participation process a bit more.  Fujimura also noted that rejected open panel submitters may submit their panels as closed panels.  Noortje Marres indicated that her understanding was that a significant number of open panel proposals did not reflect understanding of the STS field.  Marres also suggested that since travel must be considered in terms of its environmental impact, 4S needs to reflect awareness when inviting people worldwide to attend.  Marres suggested that we might promise to stream important panels to reduce the need to travel for inclusionary reasons.  Fujimura added that we’ll have one free reception at a castle and one free beer reception on a lawn.  Teun Zuiderent-Jerak indicated that EASST is working hard at inclusion in Central and Eastern Europe.  Many open panel proposals have been submitted from these regions.  Duygu Kaşdoğan asked about monetary costs for other events.  Wes Shrum reported that an EASST Council meeting may alter this, but there may be an optional charged tour added to the meeting.  Roopali Phadke reported that she will be hosting a pre-conference meeting and asked about the timing of the Council meeting.  We will meet Monday during meetings week, but it is unclear whether it will be full-day.  Phadke will send information about the pre-conference for advertising purposes.

Appointments of 4S Officers:  Joan Fujimura reported that Secretary Stephen Zehr’s and Treasurer Paige Miller’s terms ended at the NOLA meeting.  Official appointments will be made at the January meeting.

Committee Appointments: Joan Fujimura reported that the Publications Committee is larger than normal due to potential conflicts of interest in committee work.  Additional members were added to provide a sufficient number of people to deliberate decisions.  Noortje Marres questioned whether the committee held sufficient expertise in open access publishing.  Fujimura responded that Publications Committee member Chris Kelty held expertise in this area.

Budget: Paige Miller and Wes Shrum discussed comparative budget information for the past three 4S conferences provided to Council members prior to this meeting.  Shrum clarified differences across the three conferences.  Shrum noted that the Sydney conference was unique from a budget standpoint in that more flexibility is typically offered for a non-U.S. conference to highlight local matters.  Also, the conference was located at a convention center where we paid for meeting rooms.  Shrum recommended that we focus more on large expenditures rather than smaller ones.  Shrum also indicated that some budget items could only be considered once all submissions are received.  Submissions are key to predicting revenue from the conference.  Large expenses are generally the receptions/banquet and coffee breaks, which are dependent on the number of attendees.  Shrum reported that key issues with New Orleans were the number of free receptions and changes to the registration fee structure.  Council must decide whether to retain or adjust these items.

Discussion: Amanda Windle asked about changes in amounts for the program secretaries.  Shrum reported that recently program chairs have decided to hire graduate students to enter program sessions and papers into the All-Academic system.  Sydney charges were higher because they were conducted through a local university, which added indirect costs.  Windle and Noortje Marres asked that additional explanatory notes be added to the budget to clarify budget lines.  Perhaps this could be included on the second sheet.  Also, notes might be added to clarify major adjustments in budget items from year to year.  Shrum agreed that this information could be easily added.  Teun Zuiderent-Jerak asked about the revenue per attendee change from year to year and about the cost of complimentary registrations — further information would be helpful for predictive purposes.  Marres asked whether the 4S president is involved in the negotiation and planning process.  Marres also asked about the New Orleans conference where meeting room costs were low but technical support costs high.  Shrum indicated that the Prague meeting involves negotiations with EASST and there has been good cooperation.  Marres asked at what point an overall budget for Prague will be brought to Council for approval.  Shrum said that the EASST Council will approve the budget but only after the number of submissions is known.  4S Council also could then consider the budget for approval at that time.  Marres felt that 4S Council consideration for approval at that time is a good idea.  Noela Invernizzi mentioned that the conference budget varies from year to year so it is difficult to make comparisons, but that some of the budget items (e.g., technical support) might be disaggregated.  Zuiderent-Jerak added that if we make items free, we will need to carefully consider revenue enhancements.  Marres asked about the relationship between the new 4S Budget Committee and the treasurer.  Fujimura responded with the recommendation that the budget committee build a set of responsibilities.  Marres added that the president needs to be a member of that committee as well.  Fujimura also cautioned that in the future we may not be able to raise sufficient revenue for the society via the annual conference as we’ve done in the past.  Duygu Kaşdoğan asked for further clarification on apparent inconsistencies between the annual budget and the conference budget, reviewing items that need further explanation.  Shrum responded that the conference budgets sent to Council reflected an attempt to put together disparate expenses – involving multiple bills from different vendors – into meaningful categories.  Shrum recommended that the Budget Committee mostly consider large items: receptions, coffee breaks, and registration fees.  Windle added that the open receptions also led to accessibility problems – crowded venues, long walks, difficulty moving around, etc.  Green pointed out that we’ve had deficits on cost per person for past two conferences.  Green added that costs per person will be higher for conferences in the global south and that models across conferences are different.  Green asked for Shrum’s recommendations.  Shrum predicted that the costs for the Mexico meeting will be low.  Green asked whether we could increase costs for publishers’ stands.  Shrum noted that the Prague planners will likely use the traditional fee structure.  Katie Ulrich asked that the committee consider overall registration amounts when discussing fee structure.  Fujimura wrapped up the discussion by suggesting that additional questions be sent to the Budget Committee.

Joan Fujimura adjourned the meeting at 9:53 am US EST.