4S Council Meeting, 24 January 2019

Via Zoom

In attendance: Kim Fortun, Noela Invernizzi, Stephen Zehr, Hsin-Hsing Chen, María Belén Albornoz, Roopali Phadke, Teun Zuiderent-Jerak, Ana Viseu, Noortje Marres, Steven Jackson, Wes Shrum, Aadita Chaudhury, Katie Ulrich, Paige Miller, Lesley Green, Anita Say Chan, Gloria Baigorrotegui

Meeting called to order by 4S President Kim Fortun at 8:00 am US eastern time.

Belén Albornoz motioned approval of the October 2018 Council meeting minutes, Steven Jackson seconded.  The minutes were unanimously approved.

Fortun updated Council on planning for the New Orleans annual meeting.  Fortun noted the new undergraduate program at the meeting.

Meetings Ethics Policy: Fortun asked Council for comments on the new meetings ethics policy.  Several Council members encountered difficulties accessing links to Google Documents where it is located.  Final approval will come after the meeting.  Noortje Marres suggested that the policy contain the capacity for continual updating if we experience problems with the current set of rules.  Fortun suggested that we continually think about the types of problems the society might face that could be covered within the policy.  A potential concern is that the policy may generate additional subtle problems that would be difficult to handle.  Teun Zuiderent-Jerak clarified that the policy would be focused specifically on conduct at our conference.

Fortun reminded Council of the schedule for annual committee work.

Professional Ethics Committee: Fortun discussed the formation of a Professional Ethics Committee.  She envisions it functioning as an Ombudsman Committee.  This committee would oversee an events policy at our annual meeting.  Fortun also described instances of requests from societal members to respond to discriminatory behavior and opposition to political statements at their home institutions.  What role, if any, should the society take?  Fortun suggested that we develop a standard letter referencing our ethics policy.  Jackson recommended that the society be cautious about responding to individual instances where we have access to limited information.  Jackson suggested we focus attention on broader, more globally relevant cases (e.g., President Trump’s travel ban) that affects our operations rather then on individual cases requiring extensive investigation.  Marres recommended that a distinction be made between cases involving extensive public information and relevance to STS and cases where information is largely private.  No specific action was taken on this issue.

Publications Committee: Fortun noted that the committee met in December and discussed the need for a transparent succession policy for editors of the society’s journals.  A search for an ESTS editor will start soon.  The current editor is welcome to reapply for this position.  The proposed policy is that editors would be appointed for an initial 3-year term with potential for a 2-year renewal.  Once a five-year term is served, the editor would not be allowed to reapply for the next 3-year term.  This part of the proposal was discussed further by Council.  Is it wise to limit the total number of possible years served to 5 years?  Concern was expressed about the steep learning curve for new journal editors.  Fortun indicated that we need to generate that expertise within the society.  A question was raised about whether the additional 2 years would be commonly expected if an editor was doing a good job.  There also was discussion about the membership of journal editors on the Publications Committee and the separation of that membership from the Publications Committee’ and Council’ oversight of the journals and their editors.  Council authorized the Publications Committee to proceed with a search for a new editor or editorial team for ESTS.  Zuiderent-Jerak will chair the search committee.

Website Upgrade: Council considered the Website Redevelopment Working Group’s proposal that we work with the design team AWP from Ithaca, New York to initiate redevelopment of the website.  The chair of the group Steven Jackson noted that prototypes would be shared with Council for its consideration.  A key issue in the redesign process is the story that 4S wishes to portray, rather than technical issues per se.  One area where we need work is developing the visual story of 4S.  Jackson will be initiating an image drive.  We likely will receive prototypes before our April meeting.  Jackson asked Council for authorization to either proceed with this current company or solicit additional bids.  Fortun expressed support for Jackson to work with a local firm which has delivered good on-time work in the past.  Marres expressed support for the visual styles in the examples provided by the company.  Marres questioned how the company deals with external content.  Jackson agreed that we need to devote attention to generating content as well as eliminating older dead content.  Fortun raised a question about the website serving as a basis for the archives of the society.  Phadke asked whether the annual meeting website would be folded into the main website.  Jackson suggested that we’ll likely have them more closely tied together on the front page and perhaps provide some additional visual continuity across the sites.  Council agreed on the importance of accessing all societally relevant material directly on the website.  There was further discussion on different elements of web design: what material goes upfront, linkages between the website and conference site, whether there is member-only content, and further issues.  Council recommended that Steve Jackson move forward with the proposal from AWP.  A contract will be signed by the Treasurer.

Backchannels: The Backchannels group has reorganized with a new plan moving forward.  Gloria Baigorrotegui reviewed details of the plan.  A workshop will be held at the annual meeting to improve the communication strategy of 4S.

Affiliations Committee: Fortun reminded Council of the need to draft a call for institutional affiliations with the society.  The committee will be working on this call.  Albornoz reminded of the need to populate this committee.  Fortun commented that we need a protocol for endorsing events held by other societies.  Fortun also clarified that our goal is for lateral affiliations rather than any sort of hierarchical arrangement.  Albornoz asked Council for recommendations and assistance in the committee’s work.  The goal is to finalize a few affiliations by the annual meeting.

Futuring 4S: Anita Say Chan updated Council on the committee’s work.  The committee has developed a survey to send to the membership.  The timeline is to send out the survey mid-February and have a report ready for Council by the summer meeting.  Council members made suggestions about questions for the survey (e.g., a question on mentoring practices).  A recommendation was made for a public presentation at the New Orleans meeting.

Charter Revisions: Fortun reminded Council that we have one Charter revision item – 6S votes on Council – and asked Council if there are other items that require Charter change.

Reports and Resolutions Advocacy: Zuiderent-Jerak reviewed a current resolution before the committee and expressed concern about committee procedures for handling resolutions.  Zuiderent-Jerak felt that a report or resolution should be well-situated in the literature as a condition for acceptance by the Society.  Council discussed the resolution and committee procedures.  No decisions were reached.  Fortun also indicated that we need a new chair for this committee.

Fortun summarized near-term work for Council members.

Fortun adjourned the meeting at 10:00 AM US EST.