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Society for Social Studies of Science

Minutes of the 4S Council Meeting 2012

17 October 2012

Present: Pinch, Shrum, Layne, Medina, Lynch, Restivo, Parker, Ito, Rajan, Bier, Downey, Hackett, Tettner, Smith-Doerr, Zehr, Vikkelse, Horst

Trevor Pinch called the meeting to order at 3:10pm, welcomed the Council to Copenhagen, and introduced the guests.

Copenhagen Program

Maja Horst and Signe Vikkelse discussed the organization of the program and the constraints of the space, given the overwhelming response to the meeting. The theme of Copenhagenization was discussed as well as New Nordic Cuisine used in the catering for the conference. The Call for Papers used a new Open Panel format, which is a compromise between pre-formatted panels and completely open paper submissions. This was a huge success, because it allows people to connect with each other in advance, and organize their own panels. The organizers feel allowed new communities to enter the conference. More than 100 panels were organized this way. Only four of the open panel suggestions were rejected. Suggestions were made for the automation of this process in the future. One innovation was to require registration on the first of August; however, this did not significantly reduce the number of papers. The only issue is that when main (first) authors registered as required, the co-authors sometimes felt that they would be allowed late registration. The program organizers estimate that without limits there would have been 2000 participants. As it stands now there are 327 sessions; 1650 people registered.

Minutes of the 2011 Cleveland meeting were approved as published on the web.

The results of the 2012 election were announced. The next 4S President is Gary Downey, who will serve as President at the 2014 and 2015 meetings. New Council members starting at the end of the Copenhagen meeting: Kelly Moore, Wen-Hua Kuo, and Vivian Anette Lagesen. Trevor Pinch thanked outgoing members Javier Lezaun, Maria Puig de la Bellacassa, and Natasha Moore for their outstanding service to the society.

Note that the Business Meeting has been scheduled on 5:30-6:30 on Thursday.

Publications Committee

The new editor, Ed Hackett, and the Managing Editor, Katie Vann reported that submissions to the journal are up this year. Acceptance rate is about 1/3 of submitted articles. Submissions at SSS and ST&HV are approximately comparable. Five special issues under review. The target is 1-2 special issues each year. The backlog is 17 papers (now online) and two special issues are ready to go next year, including science and social justice; and a special section on voices in and outside the South. The editors note that the policy is not to accept all articles submitted in a special issue because each individual paper must pass the review process. Contributing editors are now taking a more active role on special issues. Four new contributing editors have been added. Discussion is under way on the publication of perspective pieces, prize speeches, addresses, etc., but these will be short. There is also an initiative to publish perspective pieces incorporating several book reviews together with an emphasis on the reviewers synthesis of new ideas. “Cup of tea” reviews are used to eliminate papers quickly, particularly when they are out of scope.

The discussion turned to the possibility of online publishing. Sage is interested to use online publication initially to publish articles, evaluate the articles further for comments, and then publish (via paper) only a subset of the articles. The question was raised whether 4S should do the research to establish its own online publication resources. A subcommittee committee of Publications will be established with Margy Avery (MIT Press), Katie Vann (ST&HV Managing Editor), and Laurel Smith-Doerr (4S Council).

Council discussed a raise for the Managing Editor, initially proposed by Ed Hackett at the Publications committee. This was unanimously recommended by the Publications Committee and discussed by Council, which approved an eventual increase over a five year period to an amount of $40,000, delegated the details of assessment and increase to a committee.

Handbook of Science and Technology Studies (4th edition). Lead editor, Clark Miller. Laurel Smith-Doerr reported on the progress of the new Handbook. The new Handbook website now has over 1000 hits. Solicitation and deadline for proposals will be spring of 2013. Special articles will be invited. 2016 is the expected publication date with an approximate size of 1000 pages.

Travel Grants
Kaushik Rajan received 55 applications and 29 total grants were eventually accepted by students from both the NSF fund and the Tokyo fund for Asian and African students. A book auction will be held again this year by Wenda Bauchspies (publisher liaison) and Juan Espinosa to add travel money to the fund. (Secretarial note: $425 was eventually earned for the fund by the end of Saturday.)

Future Meetings
2013. The 2013 meeting will be held in San Diego at the Town & Country Resort. The Program Chair will be Roli Varma.
2014. As reported last year, Buenos Aires will be the location. The meeting will be held jointly with ECOSITE, (Pablo Kreimer is program co-chair with Leandro Rodriguez Medina), most likely at the end of August.
2015. Council voted to go to Denver at the Sheraton downtown hotel in 2015 on 11-14 November. Trevor Pinch will invite the relevant STS departments to help with the organization of the meeting.
2016. Proposals are solicited for the 2016 joint meeting with EASST.
2017. ??
2018 Africa has been suggested as the regional site.

Steve Zehr chaired the nominations committee and reported on the elections process. The number of votes was much higher this year as a result of numerous email reminders.

New Initiatives
Laurel Smith-Doerr reported on the work of the committee and the consideration of data-sharing guidelines after last year’s lunchtime session with two NSF program officers. John Parker reported on a proposal to NSF to develop data-sharing standards for STS and also methodological concerns. The STS program will partially fund this workshop but 4S is asked to fund European and international participants because of potentially different standards and IRB review requirements. Council voted to fund the 4S share for $15,000.

There is a proposal under way by a new African network for a workshop, similar to the ones that have been funded for Asia-Pacific and the Latin American regions. An organizational session is scheduled on the Copenhagen meeting program from 4:00 to 5:30pm on Thursday.

Public Engagement
Ed Hackett and Steve Zehr jointly organized a session at the summit on sustainable development in Rio in 2012 (“Rio + 20” meeting). This was a side session of the ICSU-organized meeting at Rio. It was felt that STS perspectives were well-received but still under-represented at the meeting. The written report by Myanna Lahsen, who also attended this 4S session, mentioned

Paige Miller presented on the past role of 4S in the World Summit on the Information Society in 2005 and has been closely following the development and planning of the 2014/2015 Summit, attending the annual May forums with her own funds. She anticipates an opportunity to host a second 4S WSIS event in 2014 or 2015, similar to the Tunisia event in 2005. But there is at the moment much uncertainty as to where this global summit will occur.

New Council member Leandro Medina was asked by Sally Wyatt, Chair of the Program Committee for the International Social Science Council, to join the program committee for the World Science Science Forum. This is organized by the International Social Science Council. The next World Social Science Forum to be held in Montreal, 13th - 15th October 2013 (just after 4S), on the theme of "Social Transformation and the Digital Age" 4S members asked to propose panels and papers. The deadline is January 15th 2013. Further information can be found at the WSS Forum 2013 website

Shrum reported on the proposal, accepted by Council at the Cleveland 2011 meeting, to initiate talks for a Film Festival. There is now a proposal in collaboration with ISSC (above) to host a festival in Paris in March of 2014, provided a suitable venue (such as UNESCO) can be found. An organizational committee will be formed for this purpose. Trevor Pinch suggested a Call for Films for the 4S San Diego meeting to determine the level of interest already present in the 4S community with respect to the production (as against the consumption) of movies.

Prize Committees
This year for the first time, prizes will not be given at the banquet but rather at the Presidential Plenary. Awards will be announced on Friday.
(Secretarial note: Prizes for 2012: Nicholas Mullins Award : Joeri Bruyninckx ("Sound Sterile: Making Scientific Field Recordings in Ornithology).
The David Edge Prize to A.B. Edmonds ("Learning to Love Yourself").
The Rachel Carson Prize to Stefan Helmreich for Alien Ocean.
The Ludwik Fleck Prize to Hugh Raffles (Insectopedia).
The Bernal Prize to Adele Clark.

Knut Sorensen, the Chair of the Edge Prize committee, proposed a change in the structure of the prize committee and enlarge the pool of journals to approach for nominations. It was proposed that the winner of the Edge Prize join the committee for the following year. The question of honorable mention for the Mullins Prize this year was addressed. (One negative is that the honorable mention paper will not be eligible the following year.) It was proposed that only a single honorable mention be given. Council consensus was to allow at most one single honorable mention, if merited, for each prize given.

Student Affairs Gary Downey, incoming President of 4S, will serve as student liaison and seek ways of making this group more active and effective on a consistent basis. Jess Bier and Samuel Tettner reported on the student activities since they were elected in August. A late September video conference was held to generate ideas. A survey is now under development to assess ideas, and social media ideas are under discussion. It was suggested that the mentorship program be sustained throughout the year.
-History of Student Involvement in 4S:
-Student representatives have been on Council (non-voting) since early 1990s
-4S has always accepted almost all student papers that are submitted;
-Travel grants have been given since 1994.
-Matt Harsh (a student rep at the time) organized a mentoring program 6 years ago, but the student organization let it languish when he left, so he now runs it annually.
-4S organized 'professional socialization' sessions many years ago; it was taken over by the student organization in 2002, which for some time also had a lunch sponsored by the Chemical Foundation for their business meeting. This year no activities were reported.
-The last posted minutes for 6S were in 2007.

Secretary/Treasurer Report

The membership at the Copenhagen meeting is 1545, which is the highest level ever. The financial status of the organization is extremely positive at the moment, but there is a some uncertainty as to the costs of the meeting, which will be very large. The revenue will be equally shared with EASST (if any) but the financial risk for the meeting is undertaken by 4S.

18 October 2012

(Secretarial Note: Information is added here where it extends or differs from that of the Council meeting.)

The consensus of the meeting was fully behind the investigation of a digital publishing program for 4S, to be undertaken by the above committee.

The Handbook publisher has not yet been selected. Past President Judy Wajcman asked that the publication of Handbook and individual chapters in digital form be considered by the new Digital Publications Committee in the negotiations with the publisher.

There was a very substantial discussion of the timing of the proposed 2014 Buenos Aires meeting, considering schedules, weather, and availability of university and hotel sites. A preference was expressed for August.

For two years there has been discussion of an eventual 4S meeting in Africa, possibly in 2018. There was a discussion of the proposed new African STS network that may seek to generate a workshop with matching funds with CODESRIA in Senegal.

S&T film festival
There will be a “Call for Movies” in San Diego to discover the level of interest in 4S for movies.