4S Council Meeting, 23 July 2018

Meeting called to order by Kim Fortun at 14:00 US EST

In attendance: Kim Fortun, Stephen Zehr, Noela Invernizzi, Erika Szymanski, Teun Zuiderent-Jerak, Joan Fujimura, Aadita Chaudhury, Anita Say Chan, Roopali Phadke, Wes Shrum, Sara Wylie, Gwen Ottinger, Paige Miller, Roman Diaz, Lesley Green, Gloria Baigorrotegui, Steven Jackson


April Council meeting minutes are available for approval.

Kim Fortun reminded Council of the full day Council meeting scheduled for 28 August in Sydney.   Fortun also asked Council members to attend as many Council sponsored events at the meeting as possible.

Fortun indicated that she will complete as many committee assignments as possible for next year prior to the Sydney meetings.

Visual Redesign

A draft of the new 4S logo was distributed to Council prior to the meeting.  Fortun provided background information about the new draft design and asked for comments.  Council was unanimous in its opposition to the current design.  Concerns focused on its lack of connection to the society.  Questions were raised about whether we still want to proceed with this designer.  In general, Council members felt we needed a completely different design proposal to give us some choice.

Election and Membership

Fortun indicated that the voting percentages for President-elect and Council were normal this year, but expressed concern about the stagnant membership size.  Fortun expressed the view that membership growth is tied to the need for mission related work within the society.  Further ideas were ventured about why many STS scholars fail to renew their membership.  One reason may be lack of clarity about the benefits of joining 4S.  Teun Zuiderent-Jerak emphasized the importance of the community-building function of continual membership.  Discussion shifted to graduate student membership, which appears to be a strong feature of the society.  Erika Szymanski suggested that the problem is not graduate student membership, but maintaining a membership once students have completed a PhD and transitioned into a full-time job.  There also was discussion about how 4S is not unique among academic societies in its lack of growth.  One suggested solution is the development of practitioner and other types of workshops for members.  There also may be particular areas within STS where 4S might build out and make connections to other academic societies and practitioners.  Fortun also suggested building a category of institutional membership so that we are aware of other societies and practitioner organizations that see themselves as intellectually or functionally tied to 4S.

Sydney Meetings Update

Making and Doing: Teun Zuiderent-Jerak updated Council on the award process and the contributions of the Connective-Crits.  Zuiderent-Jerak emphasized the importance of Making & Doing in bringing alive ongoing STS work.   The Connective-Crits will articulate connections among the individual making & doing projects this year at the Sydney conference.

Meeting of Journal Editors: Fortun anticipated that about 15 journal editors would attend to discuss shared concerns and dimensions of professional journals.

Plenary: STS in Different Regions: This plenary will bring together STS scholars across global regions.

Regional STS Meetings: Fortun asked for names of individuals who are interested in participating in these meetings.

4S Business Meeting: Fortun recommended that we pay more attention to issues of disclosure and transparency at the Business Meeting.

Archival Work: The Science History Institute is launching an oral history of STS and would like to partner with us on that.  Fortun emphasized the importance of archival work and maintaining the history of the field.

6S Committee Report:

Erika Szymanski reported 6S efforts at organizing a professional workshop for graduate students and asked Council for continued financial support for the venue and lunch for about 50 participants.  Szymanski also emphasized the importance of STS identity and job-related support as mechanisms for building graduate student membership within the society.

Social Media Report

Fortun suggested that the Social Media Committee might be more active in tweeting out Backchannels and other society reports.  Aadita Chaudhury reported a desire within the social media team for more tweeting of conference proceedings, but also cautioned that we need verification of content.  Chaudhury also recommended more collaboration with other organizations – both STS related and allied fields – where tweets become retweeted collaboratively.  Steven Jackson questioned whether we perceive social media as an additional realm of work and ideas or as a means to publicize publications and the meeting.  This led to discussion of Backchannels and its functionality and how it might be changed and distributed more broadly.  Roopali Phadke indicated there is some confusion about the continuity of leadership within Backchannels and what it is intended to provide.  Jackson expressed concern that society members are not providing sufficient content for Backchannels, given its function as an official output of the society.  Graduate students are currently providing most of the content.

No specific decision was reached in this discussion, but Fortun recommended that we think about Backchannels within the full output of the society.  Readership levels are also a concern.  Jackson suggested reshaping the blog in a way that facilitates preexisting blogs about STS related topics rather than provide its own content.  The topic was tabled for future discussion.

Web Committee Report, 4S Archiving Report, Membership Benefits Report

Fortun requested comments.  Sara Wylie recommended seeking grants for some of the ideas contained in the reports.  Zuiderent-Jerak recommended that main points be distilled from the reports before we take them up for further discussion.  Fortun recommended an approach that identifies key issues and connects them to specific activities that 4S is engaged in, and then prioritize them.  Jackson recommended that we focus our attention on one or two areas in the next year, leaving other issues to future Councils.  Regarding the website, Jackson recommended that we cost out redesigns of the site before we make decisions.  At some point in the near term, Jackson recommended an aesthetic and functional overhaul of the site.  We should be guided by answers to three key questions: What is the cost of an overhaul?  Can small changes work?  Do we want to invest resources in a complete overhaul?

Meeting adjourned at 16:00 U.S. EST