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Society for Social Studies of Science

Minutes of the Council and Business Meetings, 2011


Society for Social Studies of Science
Cleveland, Ohio
November 2, 2011



Present: Judy Wajcman (President), Trevor Pinch (President Elect), Laurel Smith-Doerr, Maria Puig, Han Zhang, Kenji Ito, Sarah McCollough, Miwao Matsumoto, Linda Layne, Rebecca Herzig, Javier Lezaun, Steven Zehr, Sal Restivo, , Natasha Myers, Fred Kronz, Mike Gorman, Rick Duque, Ed Hackett., Maja Horst, Wesley Shrum

Welcome by President Judy Wajcman.

Minutes of the Tokyo meeting were approved as published on the 4S web site.

Announcements: Special session for Leigh Star to be held after the Council meeting.

The Publications Committee had just met (immediately prior to the Council meeting). The report and recommendations were provided by Stephen Zehr. The first item involved the selection of a new editor, to take over ST&HV in 2012 following the term of Geof Bowker. The committee received a number of extremely strong proposals and found all meritorious. Edward Hackett of Arizona State University was recommended as the new editor of ST&HV. Following a review and discussion, the recommendation was accepted by Council.

The second major issue was discussion of a proposal by Clark Miller for a new STS Handbook. Trevor Pinch mentioned that the model of Handbooks is changing, with the individual chapters sold individually. A number of concrete suggestions were made for the editors, which will be discussed with the editors, including the lack of inclusion of non-Western S&T. It was proposed to hold a 4S public session next year and a brief survey to discuss topics.

Student Issues. Sarah McCollough reported continued sponsorship of the Chemical Heritage Foundation of student business lunches but they are searching for new sponsors. Nominations are requested for Technoscience in case a slot becomes available during the coming year.

Travel Grants. Natasha Myers reported for Paul Mbatia, who resigned from Council after completing the Travel Grant award process. (Dr. Mbatia accepted a position as advisor to the President of Rwanda.) This is the first year since 1994 that 4S has received a stand-alone NSF grant for travel awards. A total of $10,000 will be awarded for each of the next 5 years, although the terms of the award have not changed. Thanks also to Yuki Fujigaki, who set up a special award fund using proceeds from the Tokyo meeting to fund Asian and African students.

Prize Committees
Prizes will be announced at the banquet and in Technoscience. The suggestion was made to invite current prizewinners to participate in the award of the Edge Prize. The new President (Trevor Pinch) will consider this in future committee appointments. Pres. Wajcman announced that Evelyn Fox Keller has won the Bernal Prize. Fleck and Carson Prizes have not yet been determined but it was announced that the Carson Prize committee considered an unusually large number of 122 books, narrowing it first to 40 and again to 5. Too, the Mullins Prize Committee considered an exceptionally large number of 66 papers.

The issue was raised whether the numerical (or ranked) results of the election should be made public. The council reiterated its decision that the results of the election should be kept confidential except for the announcement of winners.

Future Meetings
The Copenhagen team, led by Maja Horst, presented the current state of planning and management for the 2012 meeting. Council commended the team for excellent work and the call for papers is ready to be sent now that the theme is being finalized. Council reiterated 4S policy that in the event of the adoption of a meeting theme, the call for papers should clearly indicate submissions on all STS topics will be accepted.

Rick Duque presented the report of the ESOCITE liaison group for the 2015 Argentina joint meeting. Dates proposed are between July and August. Budgetary issues may be examined before proceeding further. Miwao Matsumoto suggested that a ‘sandwich’ structure for the ESOCITE meeting might work, as it did in Tokyo for the combined meeting of 4S and the Japanese STS society.

New Initiatives
After some lack of clarity on the conditions for the Asia-Pacific workshop, it was determined that a Memo of Understanding is necessary for all future initiatives.

Program Committee and Local Arrangements--Cleveland
Roli Varma presented the report of the Program Committee for Cleveland, for what has become a very large meeting, contrary to initial expectations. The hotel had recently announced a buyout and lengthy renovation to begin immediately after the 4S meeting ended. There were some unusual challenges to be overcome but so far the planning and implementation has been successful. Technical suggestions were made for the next program chair for improvements. Over 1000 people have already registered for the meeting. However, it was noted that 11% of submissions were rejected this year owing to space considerations. Council approved an increase in the payments for the annual meetings functions to $1000 (student volunteers/catering/mentoring/publishers exhibit/travel grants).

Public Affairs
Ed Hackett reported on liaison activities with ICSU, the International Council for Science, particularly with respect to a joint activity at the Rio + 20 meeting. Council endorsed the proposal.
Wes Shrum reported on the proposal that 4S take the lead in a joint S&T Film Festival with ICSU and ISSC. Council endorsed the proposal.

Additional Notes for Business Meeting

The 4S general business meeting was held on Friday, November 4, 2011 with 28 members attending. (Note: The decisions taken at Council meeting above were also reported at the Business meeting; only new discussions and decisions indicated here.)

Sarah McCollough reported that Student Affairs hosted a workshop on professional development and the job market with experts from three different countries. The student business meeting has been held but elections will be held online after the Cleveland meeting.

Matt Harsh: The 4S mentorship program in Cleveland now has 140 people, the largest ever. Owing to the increase in volunteering among senior scholars, this was the first year that no one was turned away.

Roli Varma was thanked for her work. 1114 are now registered for the conference. Approximately 90% of abstracts were accepted.

The question of whether to continue joint meetings with SHOT and HSS has been deferred until after meeting. Various issues were raised. It was noted that the co-located meeting means there is no 4S book exhibit in the main hotel and this is inconvenient for members. Sessions were not actually easy to negotiate in the two other hotels. There may be positives for junior scholars and graduate students. Joint meetings were originally designed when all of the societies were smaller and may not be as easy or as necessary. Someone suggested that the meeting of SHOT, HSS, could be held during the same week, but staggered.

Future Meetings: Copenhagen, 2012. San Diego, 2013. 2014, Buenos Aires, co-located with ESOCITE.

Election results for Council were announced, but it was noted that voting in the 4S elections has been lower since elections have moved online.

New Initiatives
A more regular process for funding New Initiatives (NI) be developed for the future. When 4S Council and/or the New Initiatives committee receives a proposal and decides to fund that proposal, the committee should write a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that lays out some basic expectations. This memo can be done on email, but the funding recipient should provide some kind of written agreement. Each MOU can and should be tailored to the specific initiative, but some common expectations for should include the following. If the goals, leadership, location and/or basic activity that 4S agreed to fund changes, then the group must resubmit a justification/proposal for funding. The committee will review the new proposal and decide if it still meets 4S intentions for funding. The initiative funding recipient must submit some kind of report to 4S after the activity.

There was a suggestion to begin an undergraduate essay competition. Pres. Wajcman took the suggestion under consideration. Trevor Pinch suggested a tie in with Triple Helix journal.

The meeting was adjourned at 6pm.