4S Council Meeting, 1 February 2022

1st/2nd February 2022 

Agenda February 1st 2022, 9pm–11pm UTC 

Emma Kowal called the meeting to order at 21:02 PM UTC. 

ITEM 1 Greetings  

In attendance: Emma Kowal (President), Amanda Windle (Managing Director), Barkha Kagliwal (6S), Natasha Vally, Bryn Seabrook, Aneesh Aneesh, Angela Okune (6S), Tim Neale, Chihyung Jeon, Canay Özden-Schilling, Vivian Choi, Chris Kelty (acting Chair of Publications Committee in lieu of Joan Fujimura), Maka Suarez, Lucy van de Wiel, Vivette García-Deister, and Leandro Rodriguez Medina (Cholula organiser). 


Apologies from Duygu Kaşdoğan. Misria Shaik Ali (6S) attended at 10pm (UTC) and Pablo Kreimer did not attend. 

ITEM 2 Welcome to MD and Tim Neale 

Emma Kowal welcomed Amanda Windle as Managing Director for 4S, and Tim Neale as the new elected council member, and recently appointed incoming editor for ST&HV. Neale replaces the vacant council seat that was held by Windle. 

ITEM 3 Publications committee update 

Chris Kelty, introduced the ESTS request for Editorial Assistance, with wholehearted approval from the Publications Committee. Kelty further asked for discussion around the publishing of an STS handbook—in terms of format and timings. Additionally, Kelty noted that it is important to begin a discussion and investigation into how we’re going to equitably compensate the managing editors (ESTS and ST&HV) going forward. Historically speaking it’s been somewhat ad hoc between the two, and going forward, it probably needs to be normalized and part of that is determining, with the help of ST&HV how much work is involved, for that role: to work out an average basis whether that’s weekly, monthly, yearly, etc, then a commitment for council to pay both journal managing editors equitably. Finally, Kelty opened discussion on the best approach to appointing editors in the future based on the recent ST&HV call. Is an open call the best way to find voices outside of the community and new ways of working collectively and in an engaged way? Kowal and Kelty discussed and agreed that financial decisions are council decisions, but other decisions related to publications sit with the Publications Committee. Action: Kelty suggested that the Publications Committee needs to write-up possible models for the future handbook, including consideration of open access models (e.g., PubPub, MIT Press’ open publishing initiative). This process could include a panel at the Cholula meeting sponsored by the Publications Committee. 

Further discussion focused on longer term planning, and financial sustainability of 4S journals. Kelty discussed the potential contribution of Libraria and a potential report Libraria could do on the journal ecosystem of a professional society using 4S as an example. Council was supportive of this idea. 

ITEM 4 Approval of November 2021 Minutes 

Council received minutes two weeks prior to the meeting. Kowal asked for any comments or additional amendments to the minutes before calling for a vote to approve the minutes. Vote: The motion to approve the November minutes was moved by Aneesh and seconded by Choi, and approved unanimously by (11) votes, with (0) against, and (0) abstention. The motion was carried. 

ITEM 5 Business approved out of session: New Council member and Funding for Catalyst 

Kowal gave room for discussion on the agreed 5k (USD) funding for Catalyst, and on the election of Neale to the vacant seat on 4S Council. There were no further comments. 

ITEM 6 Finance Report  

Windle gave a financial report from November ’21 to February ’22, and a review of the ’22 budget. The report included that PayPal is still linked to Chase but in the name of former meeting planner Wes Shrum although hopefully this will be resolved soon. All finance documents for archiving, have been created into new folders within Dropbox using a simple naming convention. During a November meeting, ACLS recommended that 4S incorporate and provided the name of lawyer Steve Schaeffer (WTP), with whom Windle has been meeting regarding incorporation. The ’21 tax return was made and for ’22 preparations on 1099s have been made to all contractors for 4S. All invoices have been paid, and the credit card has Aneesh’s name added as treasurer. The banking review continues to explore digital banking options. The budget for ’22 (created early January ’22) was presented with two notable differences—NSF travel grants are missing and also potential royalties from handbook. The overall end of year balance the finances are better than steady state for ’22. Aneesh added that Kowal, Aneesh, Choi and Windle had been looking at ways to decrease the budget by consolidating our backend digital infrastructure (by combining software providers) for significant savings. 

ITEM 7 Executive meeting report and proposals for new banking arrangements 

Aneesh presented a report from the executive meetings (with Aneesh, Choi, Kowal, and Windle). Kowal noted that demos are being attended which will be combined into a report for council. Kowal also noted that we’re trying to get quotes from financial advisors to look at the money that is in the bank, as the balance is greater than that which can be insured. Windle commented on the ways that banking infrastructure was changing with less telephone help desks and products being suspended (HSBC) during the pandemic/economic downturn. Aneesh noted that he and Windle are preparing a document looking at alternatives to the existing Chase banking and this will be informed by a planner or independent financial advisor (IFA) including advice on transnational banking. Lucy van de Wiel agreed that it made sense to engage a financial planner (IFA), and for the Council to advise on what 4S does and doesn’t invest in, and what ethical risks are taken with that money. Kowal noted that due diligence on ethical investment and its definition needs to be done. Angela Okune said that feedback from 6S—faculty mentors didn’t want to receive the honorarium but to establish a fund for 6S instead. The vote for 4S to engage a financial advisor on different banking options was moved by Bryn Seabrook and seconded by Chihyung Jeon. The vote was carried with (10) voting for the proposal with (1) abstention (Natasha). 

Kowal presented on the current learnings on incorporation with WTP’s lawyer Stephen Schaeffer. The main issue is liability. If someone pursued legal action because, for example, they were harassed at a conference or believed they were plagiarised by ESTS, all council members would be personally liable. It would be difficult to get liability insurance because we’re not incorporated. At present it would seem best to incorporate in Virginia, but there are choices. If council endorses further exploration of incorporation the executive committee will present an incorporation proposal to the next council meeting. It is likely that if, after considering an incorporation proposal at the next meeting, council endorses incorporating, council would need to hold a special business meeting in the next few months (with membership to vote on incorporation, and to change the charter to by-laws with some specific changes to those by-laws). The matter of incorporation for opened up for questions. 

Neale stated that as a member he assumed that 4S was already incorporated and was in favour of incorporation, and noted that insurance without incorporation sounds potentially difficult. Van de Wiel raised the question of potential advantages of being located anywhere else outside of the US because many international organisations don’t incorporate in the US because it’s so litigious. Windle noted that the US was currently bringing members of the UK royal family to court in the US (for abuse) so there are counterpoints to what we are discussing. Aneesh added that the US has a really long reach even if the organisation is headquartered somewhere else outside of the US, it still means that the organisation can easily be sued by a US organisation. Vote: Council approves further exploration of incorporation of 4S and engaging the lawyers at WTP. Canay Özden-Schilling moved the motion, and García-Deister seconded. The motion was carried unanimously, with (11) approvals and zero (0) abstentions. 

ITEM 8 6S Proposal for 2022 activities 

Barkha Kagliwal spoke on behalf of Angela Okune and Misria Shaik Ali to give a quick recap on the aim to restructure 4S activities like the mentorship program (which used to be in-person) and the workshop held prior to the conference. Seabrook commented that the proposal was thrilling (as a previous 6S representative), and the activities throughout the year are fantastic. Kowal summarised that there is a lot of support for this proposal, and also many mentions of the value of 6S in the Prague2020 survey. Vote: The motion to approve 6S proposal was moved by García-Deister and seconded by Neale and approved unanimously with no abstentions. The motion was carried. 

ITEM 9 Toronto & Prague conferences survey discussion 

Kowal explained this item was to reflect on the last two conference surveys. Suarez noted that the Council had already reviewed the Prague report after Prague, noting that the reports are not totally new to council. Kowal suggested that the discussion move to applying this learning for Cholula2022. 

ITEM 10 Cholula conference 

Leandro Rodriguez Medina presented on the background to Cholula’s decision to change to Universidad Iberoamericana Ciudad de México (Ibero-American University) due to a state and federal legal dispute with the university that was initially to host the ’22 conference. We are negotiating the contract and will have a site visit with meetings to test digital infrastructure in March (Leandro, Luciano Levin, Pablo Kreimer, Vivette García-Deister in-person, and with Kowal, Aneesh, Choi and Windle virtually testing via Microsoft Teams). Cholula is planned as an in-person conference, but flexibility is required in the current context. The conference planning team and 4S executive committee will review the situation in mid-2022 and ask that participants do not book flights and accommodation before then. Van de Wiel asked is there a way we could have some platform for socialising around Mexico City, this is what is being missed at the virtual conferences? Rodriguez Medina said a section of the meeting website would keep people informed on travel. Seabrook asked about travel visas. Rodriguez Medina noted that visa requirements to Mexico vary (no visa in Europe). This information will be provided on the website and in communications with 4S members. Okune discussed the equitable pricing scheme Murphy and others had worked out for Toronto2021. Kowal noted that the council would like to maintain that scheme. Rodriguez Medina discussed an idea for an in-memoriam part of the conference where people can recognise those that have died from COVID. This is inspired by—dia de los muetros—which falls close to the time of the conference. There was full endorsement from council on this initiative. Action: Rodriguez Medina to add a note to the website on travel and visas, with a recommendation to add the following to Technoscience/website: We recommend participants wait to book their air travel and hotel until we make the final announcement in June 2022. 

Council also noted that Rodriguez Medina, Anne Pollock, Laura Foster, Aalok Khandekar have applied for an NSF grant for a publishing workshop prior to Cholula aimed at supporting early-career scholars from the global south. 

ITEM 11 Proposal for support for ESTS editorial assistants 

Council considered the request from ESTS for funding to employ two editorial assistants. Kowal expressed her view that this was a reasonable request in helping the current ESTS Editors realize their visions for ESTS. Suarez suggested one of the assistants could come from the global south. Vote: The motion to approve the ESTS request for $20k to fund two editorial assistants for 12 months, was moved by Aneesh and seconded by Choi and approved unanimously with Okune abstaining. The motion was carried. 

Kowal suggested the next council meeting would be in April 2022 and ended the meeting at 23:00 PM UTC.