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Society for Social Studies of Science

4S Council Meeting 21 October 2014

Approved by Council March 2015

Council Members and Officers Present: Gary Downey, Wes Shrum, Paige Miller, Stephen Zehr, Lucy Suchman, Daniel Breslau, Kelly Moore, Tania Pérez Bustos, Sulfikar Amir, Wen-Hua Kuo, Shobita Parthasarathy, Claire Waterton.  Joined by Daniel Kleinman for 1st part of the meeting.

Meeting was called to order by Gary Downey at 8:40 am (US EST)

Announcements:

Downey announced that we would not vote on any action item during the meeting.  Two Council members were unable to participate and the voting would pose some logistical problems.  All voting items will occur electronically during the weeks following the meeting.

Downey announced that the open access journal will begin as a stand-alone publication, similar to ST&HV.

Kelly Moore presented Daniel Kleinman’s description of his plans for the journal.  Moore noted that Kleinman’s focus will be specifically on development of the journal rather than design issues not essential to academic scholarship.

The Digital Publications Work Group has been hard at work.  Daniel Breslau reported that the interface of the 4S website is being redesigned.  Current work is focused on the development of a blog.  The blog will provide an outlet for alternative formatted items relevant to 4S.  This format will include a visual or audio dimension.  A call for materials has been sent out.  The goal is to have several pieces of content ready by 1 December.  The Work Group is uncertain about the title of the blog.  Two titles -- “Coordinates” and “Back Channels” have been proposed.  Breslau requested Council reaction to these proposed titles. Downey will also seek comments from the membership in his November President’s message.

Paige Miller provided a budget update.  4S broke even on the Buenos Aires meeting, which was good news.  Currently, the 4S balance is $430,000.  Downey asked about income and expenses for the rest of the year.  Miller noted that we could end up in the black for the year.

Since Daniel Kleinman is present but needs to teach a class soon, Downey moved to the business item of naming the open access journal.  Kelly Moore led the discussion.   Moore noted that we have feedback from the membership, comments from Daniel Kleinman, and a list of potential titles to work from.  Tania Pérez Bustos discussed her suggestion for the journal title – Aperos.  In her review of membership comments she noted some reaction against it and also acknowledged the comments from Kleinman about the value of a more generic title.  Downey noted that the significance of the word “Open” (a part of several title suggestions) may erode over time as open access journals become more common.  Downey asked whether we might be able to eliminate some potential titles at this point and vote on remaining titles later.  In reviewing comments received from 29 members, Lucy Suchman noted that the two preferred titles are Aperos: Open STS and Engaging Science, Technology, and Society.  Suchman mentioned that she likes the ambiguity of “open” at this point, but could live with both “Open” and “Engaging”.  Suchman doesn’t share the negative responses to Aperos.  Sulfikar Amir mentioned that it is important for a title to reflect the identity of the field.  Amir also indicated that there are many journals with the word “open” in the title.  Amir indicated that he prefers Engaging Science, Technology and Society because it sounds active in asking people to explore S&T.  Shobita Parthasarathy indicated that she likes Engaging Science, Technology and Society.  Parthasarathy noted the comment from the membership about the double meaning of “engaging”.  Parthasarathy suggested that “open” is a bit redundant.  She also likes Aperos but is sensitive to whether it will show up in a web search.  Kelly Moore interjected that Managing Editor Katie Vann feels that people would still be able to find a journal in a web search with a name like Aperos as long as it includes a subtitle.  Daniel Breslau agreed that “open” is superfluous.  There are many journals with this word in the title.  Breslau is in favor of a two-part title.  If the journal takes off, Breslau mentioned that the title Aperos would be provocative.  Paige Miller indicated that she likes Engaging Science, Technology, and Society but finds the other titles acceptable as well.  Wes Shrum likes Aperos but does not have a strong opinion on the title.  Wen-Hua Kuo agreed that Aperos may have cultural attachments that we need to be aware of.  Moore mentioned that the German cultural meaning sometimes associated with the French word “apéros” is as a fashionable middle-class word for aperitif.  Suchman likes a short-hand reference to the journal – a hybrid title of some sort like Aperos.

After everyone had an opportunity to comment, Downey indicated that we can probably eliminate the titles: Science, Technology & Society Open and Open Science, Technology & Society.   This leaves us with the two titles of Engaging Science, Technology and Society and Aperos: Open STS.  Downey then questioned Council about their views of Aperos as the title with Engaging Science, Technology and Society as a subtitle.  Some support emerged for the idea.  Daniel Kleinman indicated that he found this title acceptable.  However, there was some disagreement among Council at that point about whether “aperos” and “engaging” in the same title might mix metaphors.  

Following this discussion, the following titles were on the table: Engaging Science, Technology and Society; Aperos: Engaging Science, Technology and Society; and Aperos: Journal of Science, Technology and Society.  Kleinman indicated that his two concerns are people connecting to the journal and the long-term staying power of the title.  Kleinman supported the use of the word “Engaging” and also feels that Aperos: Engaging Science, Technology and Society is acceptable as a title.  Downey reiterated the three options – noted above – and indicated that we’ll have two rounds of voting by Council members.  Kleinman then had to leave the meeting. 

Downey indicated that we potentially need to change voting procedures.  Past practice has been to make a decision based upon a minimum of seven votes as long as there are not major objections within the minority.  However, this number was based on a total of ten possible votes (nine Council members and the President).  Downey noted that we now have 11 voters with the addition of President-elect Lucy Suchman.  Downey asked Council what would be a compelling number of votes in the majority.  Moore recommended that we need consistency across issues and finds seven votes an acceptable majority.  There were no further comments.  Downey indicated that we will continue the practice of requiring seven votes to pass an issue.  There was no Council opposition.

Return to Announcements:

Claire Waterton updated Council on the 2016 EASST/4S meeting.  Waterton noted that EASST President Fred Steward’s preferred site is a university.  EASST is seeking a university-based sponsorship.  Several potential university sponsors in Barcalona, Spain are being contacted.  Steward is also open to a hybrid conference arrangement using university personnel and a professional conference organizer and/or hotel venue.

Buenos Aires Council Meeting minutes:  Further adjustments will be forthcoming.  Moore motioned to approve the minutes pending subsequent adjustments and vote of the Council.  Amir seconded. 

New Business:

Journal title: Breslau motioned that we hold a Council vote on the remaining titles for the open access journal.  Waterton seconded.

STS Making and Doing Committee: Downey announced that the ad hoc members of the committee have agreed to serve on a permanent committee.  Gary proposed forming a standing Making and Doing Committee.  Amir seconded.   Amir asked about membership.  Downey indicated that it consists of the current ad hoc committee members for now, but we may need to vary length of terms.  Downey also reminded Council that the additional committees we’ve formed require enrolling members outside of Council.  Amir added that each current member is committed to remain on the committee until the Denver 4S meeting.  Amir advocated a 3-year committee membership with staggered terms.  Moore questioned whether a 3-year commitment is too long and advocated a 2-year commitment instead.   No action was taken to change the length of term from three to two years.  Downey then indicated that the committee charge would be altered so that making and doing procedures could be altered as necessary by the committee.  

Amir raised the issue of assessing making and doing submissions to the Denver meeting.  Amir suggested that the committee receive qualitative assessments from the conference attendees, but also request comments from participants.  The committee would take these into account in their assessment of projects.  Amir advocated a fully qualitative assessment.  Downey responded that the committee should have full discretion to adjust procedures as necessary.  Wes Shrum raised a question about the process of exhibiting making and doing projects.  There needs to be clarity about how much program organizers are able to assist and how much exhibitors will need to complete themselves.  Shrum reminded Council that inexperienced exhibitors can be needy.  The committee needs to be aware of these challenges, especially as it moves to routinize the activity after the first year.  Downey indicated he will add to the committee charge language indicating that exhibitors should first contact the committee chair with questions or requests rather than conference organizers.  After completion of discussion, Downey indicated that the making and doing proposal will be added to the list of items for Council vote.

Mentoring Award proposal:  Downey made a motion to approve the five-part proposal, including forming a standing committee.  Breslau seconded.  Downey asked for comments on the language of the proposal.  Moore questioned whether the mentoring award could be awarded to a group of people or is it limited to one person.  Downey said the committee did not discuss that issue.  Suchman added that she likes the idea.  All of our awards are currently directed to one winner.  Opening up the language for this award would provide an opportunity to award a group.  Suchman also suggested that the nomination process looks onerous.  Could the process be streamlined?  Moore supported this point, adding that other organizations have found that long nomination procedures limit diversity of nominees.  Moore suggested a five-page limit to the nomination.  Suchman suggested a two-page limit to the supporting letter along with three one-page letters from mentees.  Downey raised a question about other supporting documentation.  Downey suggested that the nomination include a two-page statement from the nominator and a maximum of three additional letters from mentees, each with a two-page limit.  Moore clarified that the “mentee” letters essentially refer to letters of support from others (e.g., a letter from a dean might be included).  Downey indicated that he would develop a final document, including suggested amendments, and take it to the Mentoring Award Committee.  The final proposal for Council vote will include these amendments.  Bustos questioned whether the nominating packet might include information about diversity.  Suchman recommended adding language to the proposal indicating that the Mentoring Award Committee will consider expanding diversity of STS by reaching new populations in its deliberations about award candidates.  After this discussion, Downey indicated that this proposal, with final language, would be voted on after the meeting.  A question was then raised about committee composition.  Downey indicated that the current committee will continue to serve through to the Denver meeting at which point he’ll set up a committee rotation.

Founders Award/Building STS Award:  Downey indicated that there are two candidates for the name of the award: “Building STS Award” & “Founding STS”.  In response to a prior concern of Council, Downey indicated that this award would not overlap with the mentoring award.  Discussion of the proposal followed.  Suchman said that she still had difficulties distinguishing between “building” and “mentoring”.  Suchman also expressed preference for the name “Building STS” over “Founders of STS”.  The latter suggests oldness.  Breslau added that he prefers “Building” in the title.  Amir agreed with the comments about building.  Bustos also agreed with Suchman and Breslau, expressing support for the institutional building dimensions of the award.  Parthasarathy expressed some concern about the challenges of distinguishing between this award and the mentoring and Bernal prizes.  Waterton also was a bit equivocal about the distinction.  Suchman suggested that we defer a decision about this award since we’re currently in the process of instituting two other awards.  Maybe we should wait until we see what we’re missing from the other new awards.  Moore also is confused about who might receive this award and would like to see language about diversity built into the proposal.  Moore also agreed with Suchman that we may be pushing forward something that is still confusing at this point. Kuo, on the other hand, indicated that one reason for having this award is to recognize people who build up STS in new world regions.  Some outstanding STS scholars are not visible in the English-speaking world and might be recognized through this award.  Kuo felt that the award description is sufficiently transparent and necessary to recognize people who may be ignored because they work in non-English languages. Downey concluded this item indicating that the diverse views expressed by Council will be taken back to the committee.

Downey announced that he’d like to continue to hold quarterly Council meetings.  These would be virtual meetings, with the potential exception of an in-person winter or spring meeting after a new president is installed.

Downey adjourned the meeting at 9:35 am (US EST).