4S Council Meeting Minutes
18 May 2020
In attendance: Hsin-Hsing Chen, Stephen Zehr, Paige Miller, María Belén Albornoz, Wes Shrum, Joan Fujimura, Teun Zuiderent-Jerak, Katie Ulrich, Angela Okune, Bryn Seabrook, Duygu Kaşdoğan, Noela Invernizzi, Amanda Windle, Roopali Phadke, Pablo Kreimer, Noortje Marres, Ana Viseu
Joan Fujimura called the meeting to order at 8:00 AM US Eastern Time.
Approval of minutes: Minutes from the December 2019, January 2020, and March 2020 Council meetings were unanimously approved.
Update on the 4S/EASST virtual conference. Joan Fujimura updated Council on several aspects of the conference. Fujimura indicated that the number of submissions looks good. Approximately 1700 papers were accepted for presentation, but this is a preliminary number of eventual attendees. Fujimura indicated a need to continue building support. Teun Zuiderent-Jerak reminded Council that the joint 4S/EASST conference is normally a very large meeting with numbers exceeding this current figure.
Fujimura acknowledged some complaints from members on Twitter about costs of the on-line conference. Fujimura added that efforts are ongoing to emphasize the value of the conference. The messaging also will include information about how the annual conference supports the affairs of the society.
Discussion: Hsin-Hsing Chen asked whether there will be opportunities for other organizations, such as the East Asian Society, to meet in virtual sessions. Chen noted the importance of the annual conference as a site for this organizational and interactive activity. Roopali Phadke recommended additional language be added to the registration site to justify the registration fee of $300. Phadke also suggested adding information to the membership page to emphasize societal activity and perhaps add new categories of membership such as a life- time membership. Duygu Kaşdoğan asked about registration fees for registrants from low-income nations. Fujimura replied that this is a complex process to set up. Paige Miller pointed out that a graduated registration fee structure was considered within a past 4S committee but was rejected. Teun Zuiderent-Jerak emphasized that we sank well below the steady state budget level after the 2019 New Orleans conference and expressed concern about the financial viability of the Society. Zuiderent-Jerak added that all financial decision-making practices from the past need to be back on the agenda. There are additional concerns about inclusiveness issues at the conference, but it is now important to center on the financial viability of the society. Noortje Marres asked whether the Publications Committee has financial considerations on their agenda, recommending that they be added given changes in the publication world.
Ana Viseu asked questions about the logistics of the conference since everyone is working at home with other daily pressure and suggested the development of additional intellectual opportunities at a small fee throughout the year. Fujimura responded that the meeting will cover a longer period of time to accommodate different time zones world wide, but all times will use Central European Time. Wes Shrum added that session organizers will have an opportunity to pick times that best accommodate the needs of session presenters. Fujimura added that we have contracted with Slides Live — a Czech based company — to provide technical material support. We’re currently negotiating the final terms of the contract. 4S pays most of the costs since it is the larger organization.
Teun Zuiderent-Jerak asked whether the Making & Doing sessions have been discussed among organizers, adding that it is difficult to imagine how these sessions will succeed in a virtual conference. Fujimura responded that organizers have discussed this issue and will support the Making & Doing session. 62 proposals were submitted. There is follow-up with presenters on how they’ll transform their sessions to a virtual format.
Pablo Kreimer asked about the number of registrants we need to balance costs and revenues. Kreimer also asked whether a session addressing a Covid-19 world will be added to the agenda. Fujimura indicated that a plenary will focus on Covid-19. Fujimura also clarified that the registration fee was devised based upon costs of the meeting and maintenance of the two societies.
Vote on registration fee Structure: Fujimura announced the results of an email Council vote approving the registration fee structure for the annual meeting. The vote was 13 in favor, 0 opposed.
Student and low-income country fee support: Noela Invernizzi announced that the society can support about 160 fee waivers this year for graduate students and people from low income countries. Much of these monies would normally go to travel support. Fee waivers also are issued to 4S Council members and officers of 4S (18 people). There also is a request from Backchannels staff (9 people) for waivers, which we’ve done in the past. Although much of this money comes from NSF and Asian support, additional money comes out of the 4S budget. Teun Zuiderent-Jerak recommended proceeding with caution this year in allocating additional fee waivers. Paige Miller reminded Council that the NSF fund is only for graduate students, adding the Latin America, Africa, and Asian fund is likely to run out in about two years. Miller indicated an argument could be made to freeze those funds this year since there are no travel costs associated with the conference. Miller added that a very large number of free registrations were given at the New Oreans conference, which cost the society around $30,000. Ana Viseu added that we’re funding more people for fee waivers this year than past years, so a justifiable case can be made to be conservative. Amanda Windle asked about graduate students performing a moderating role at the sessions in exchange for fee waivers. Fujimura responded that session chairs will moderate, so we do not need graduate students for this task. Windle asked about a welcoming role to the meeting and whether there may be roles for graduate students there.
Web design update: Noortje Marres reported that the web committee has received a skeleton of the new web design. The web committee felt that the annual conference would be a perfect opportunity to launch the new web design, but would like feedback from Council. There also is a question of who will take the lead role in web design decision-making in the final months. Both Steve Jackson and Marres wish to pass on that role. The other issue is the new 4S web logo. Our current logo does not translate well to an on-line format. Ana Viseu suggested a student competition at her design school for a new logo, adding that there would be costs associated with it. Viseu suggested that $1000 would be an appropriate amount. Marres clarified that we’re replacing the 4 S’s in the logo. Marres suggested that a call for a new design be issued and a winner selected. Viseu and Marres proposed that Council approve from $500-$1000 for the final design. Further discussion ensued about the amount and procedures of the design process.
Action taken: Marres motioned that we ask Ana Viseu to lead the design of a new logo for the web and that we’ll allocate from $500-$1000. A brief for the design will be given to the successful student with payment level contingent upon the amount of necessary work. Amanda Windle seconded the motion. Council unanimously approved.
Election Procedure: Belén Albornoz reported that the Election Committee recommends opening elections for Council and President-elect on 10 June. Currently there are 12 nominations for Council and 5 nominations for President. Close of nominations is today. The election timing is similar to last year but later than prior years. The Charter also requires that the election be held 6 months prior to the annual conference. Albornoz suggested a deadline of 8 July for the final vote. The Elections Committee will work on finalizing the slate and will ask Council for feedback.
Social media and Backchannels report: Amanda Windle reported that the team has been working on Twitter and Facebook. The profile has grown. One challenge has been to increase volunteer activity. A call has been put out for more volunteers. Social media visa vis the conference has been good. Windle recommended that some type of recognition for volunteers is important. There have been some complaints about registration fees on Twitter, but efforts have been made to explain the rates.
Backchannels has been soliciting Covid-19 articles for its issues. Data indicate that Backchannels is growing in terms of views and other indications of success. Windle requested more functionality for future Backchannels editions and more contributions. Backchannels issues are still posted four times a month. A committee report will be forwarded to Council.
Transnational STS project — brief report: Duygu Kaşdoğan reported that the committee is focusing on how 4S is responding to Covid-19. The effort will be educationally focused. Windle added that this work is important both intellectually and for increasing the stature and visibility of 4S.
Joan Fujimura announced that the next 4S Council meeting will be in July.
Joan Fujimura adjourned the meeting at 10:00 am US Eastern Time.