4S Council Meeting, 3 September 2019

In attendance: Kim Fortun, Joan Fujimura, Stephen Zehr, Wes Shrum, Roopali Phadke, Teun Zuiderent-Jerak, Noela Invernizzi, Steven Jackson (via skype), Gloria Baigorrotegui, Anita Say Chan, Lesley Green, Maria Belen Albornoz, Hsin Hsing Chen, Noortje Marres, Ana Viseu, Aadita Chaudhury, Katie Ulrich, Duygu Kaşdoğan, Amanda Windle, Paige Miller (joined via Skype for the budget & finances discussion), Members of Conference Organizing Committee, Ulrike Felt, Lucy Suchman

Kim Fortun called the meeting to order at 10:05 am

Introductions were made around the room.

Conference Report (with co-chairs Andrea Ballestero & Vivian Choi and conference co-secretaries Katie Ulrich & Pedro de la Torre III)

Council Sessions

Kim Fortun outlined some of the highlights of the conference and encouraged Council members to attend Council organized work sessions, prize related sessions, and presidential roundtables.  Fortun emphasized the transnational interest in the meeting this year.  Fortun also described the value of the transnational exhibits at the conference.

Making & Doing

Teun Zuiderent-Jerak discussed the need for close coordination between the Conference Organizing Committee and members of the Making & Doing Committee.  To this end, a liaison between the two committees will be appointed for next year’s meeting.  A question was raised about the thematic nature of making & doing and how it evolves year to year.  A concern was expressed about how it might be rewritten on an annual basis, potentially moving away from the design approved by Council and its positioning as a scholarly contribution.  Close cooperation between the Making & Doing Committee and Conference Organizing Committee would prevent potential straying from the original objective.

Action required: Appoint an STS Making & Doing liaison on the Prague Conference Organizing Committee – Joan Fujimura

Travel Awards

Noela Invernizzi reported on the very high demand for travel grants this year.  The committee recommended that the applicant-waiting period be increased from one to two years once an award has been received.  No Council action was taken on this recommendation.  The U.S. National Science Foundation grant that provides travel award money will be ending soon.  The intent is to submit a grant, led by Treasurer Paige Miller, for the February 2020 NSF STS deadline.  The grant request will be increased from current levels.

Mentoring Program

Kim Fortun described the value and success of the mentoring program and possibilities for expansion.  This meeting has the largest number of participants in the Mentoring Program.

Event Ethics Committee Policy

Kim Fortun discussed aspects and procedures of the policy for this year.   The implementation of the policy this year is a tiered process.  Council members raised questions about its implementation and culturally contingent wording.  Council agreed to revisit the policy prior to next year’s conference.  It was emphasized that the policy is a work in progress and that implementation should be internalized into the policy.

Conference Indicators, Innovations, & Challenges

Conference organizers reported on their philosophy and organization of the conference.  It is a very large conference.  Demographic background of attendees was reviewed.  Organizers emphasized how attendees are skewed toward early career scholars.  There was discussion about the scaled registration fees based on salary levels expressed in U.S. dollars.  A concern was expressed that Council has actually not carried out its financial responsibilities as required by the Charter, making it very unclear to the conference organizers what their responsibilities were and which decisions they could make themselves and which would require a Council vote.  Council agreed to be more proactive in the future in keeping an eye on expenses, carefully assessing what the society is able to financially support to increase accessibility.  More generally, further clarification of roles in the meeting planning and budgeting process were recommended.  Council recognized that this meeting has additional complexity that requires more funding and potentially breaks new ground in organizational demands.  Council thanked the organizing committee for its hard work in putting this conference together.  Council suggested the development of a conference decision-making calendar.  It also was noted that the registration fee depends upon the number of abstracts received and anticipated registration waivers.  There also was discussion about costs and need for internet access at future conferences.

Venues for Future Conferences

Prague meeting: Ulrike Felt brought the conference website for the Prague meeting to the attention of Council.  Dates for the meeting are 18-21 August 2020 at a university location.  Sub-plenaries are being planned tied to conference themes.  The conference call is out with proposals for panels due 31 October.  All-Academic will be the conference software.  Food provisioning for lunches will need to be organized due to lack of local restaurant options around the university.  Council recommended eliminating a banquet as a ticketed event, instead folding one big reception into the price of registration.  There also was some discussion of making available low-cost housing for graduate students.

Standing Committee Reports

Nominations Committee

Roopali Phadke reported results of the Council election, described the nomination and election process, and noted the diversity built into the current Council.  Phadke recommended that we begin work earlier on nominations, gathering information, and clarifying the slate.

Prize Committees

Roopali Phadke reported on prize committee procedures.  There was discussion of how to reduce the number of nominations for the book prizes.  The chairs of the prize committees agreed to develop a proposal to bring back to Council for consideration at our next meeting.  The proposal might mean that publishers are excluded from making nominations or may do so when providing a clear nomination narrative.

It was mentioned that nominations for the Edge and Mullins Awards can still be made by journal editors, as these are centrally positioned scholars in the field and their nominations have in fact often been very meaningful.

Action: Develop a proposal on the nominations process and role of publishers for the Fleck and Carson Prizes.

Web Committee

Steve Jackson reported on the redesign of the website, providing the history of decision-making.  The society has committed $15,000 to a vendor (Ancient Wisdom Productions in Ithaca, NY) for development of a new design.  Council already voted to commit $20,000 to the project so $5000 is still in reserve if necessary.  The web committee is working with the vendor.  The launch has been delayed.  The new timeline is to produce a full version for Council review by the end of Fall 2019, with a final version on line by January 2020.  Several screenshots of current work were shared with Council.  One challenge has been the movement of content from the old site to the new one.  Council recommended improving clarity of access within the new site, making it easier to find important items.

4S Council 2019-2020 Committee Assignments

Council discussed committee composition including the advantages of committee continuity from year to year, appointments of non-Council members, and opportunities for change in committee assignments.  A list of people who ran for Council or 6S representative but were not elected is available from the Secretary.  These people have expressed interest in serving the Society and are strong potential candidates for committee service.  Committee assignment work is currently underway by incoming president Joan Fujimura.

4S Budget and Finances

Paige Miller reported on the budget via Skype.  Miller broke the budget down into known and unknown expenses revolving around the meeting.  Also, the budget is separated between non-meeting expenses, known meeting expenses, and unknown meeting expenses.  Miller reminded Council of our budget steady state policy of end-of-year balance between $400,000-$500,000 to protect the society from risk of a failed annual meeting and the lagged timing of expenses and revenue throughout the year.  The budget is always much clearer after the meeting once revenue and expenses are clarified so figures reported in the budget submitted to Council are estimates.  There was further discussion of the planning and budgeting process for this year and the specified roles of Council, the meetings planner, and conference organizers.  Comments also addressed the question of whether an advanced conference budget approved by Council and allocated to the conference organizing committee would be appropriate.  Council requested that Wes Shrum and Paige Miller develop two financial meeting models (one as meetings have run in the past and one based on the current meeting), so that Council can compare them. The aim would be to decide on a model conference budget to avoid the need for oversight on small expenses.

Action: Produce an overview of two meeting models and their budgets: Miller and Shrum.

Backchannels Report

Gloria Baigorrotegui and Amanda Windle reported on activity of Backchannels over the past year.  It was emphasized that Backchannels is important both for its international reach and as an institutionalized opportunity for developing communication skills in forms other than longer research articles.  Fortun reported a request to consider increasing the Backchannels coordinator stipend from $3000 to $5000 at our next Council meeting.

New Business

The July 2019 Council meeting minutes were approved.

Noortje Marres motioned and Teun Zuiderent-Jerak seconded Council approval of proposed changes in the Charter regarding 6S voting privileges.  The major change involves giving 2nd and 3rd year 6S members a vote in Council proceedings.  Council unanimously approved the motion.  Since it involves a Charter change, it will need to be approved at the 4S Business meeting [it was unanimously approved].  If approved there, it will come up for vote by the membership [It was subsequently approved].

Anita Say Chan motioned and Teun Zuiderent-Jerak seconded a change in the title of the Nominations Committee to the Elections Committee.  Council approved the motion unanimously.

Joan Fujimura discussed her incoming role as president and acknowledged the work of Council and other members of the society.

The meeting was adjourned by Kim Fortun at 4:50 pm.