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Society for Social Studies of Science

4S March 2016 Council Meeting Minutes

Members present: President, Lucy Suchman; Treasurer, Paige Miller; Program Officer, Wes Shrum; Council Members: Abby Kinchy, Claire Waterton, Sulfikar Amir, Daniel Breslau, Tania Pérez Bustos, Shobita Parthasarathy, Sara Wylie, Gwen Ottinger, Oscar Javier Maldonado Castañeda; Secretary, Stephen Zehr (joined meeting at 10 AM).

Meeting called to order by Lucy Suchman at 9:00 AM

Suchman explained the use of Go-to-Meeting software and outlined the agenda.

Treasurer’s Report: Paige Miller recommended caution with expected meeting expenses and revenues.  The projections distributed to Council in the Treasurer’s Report drew upon experience from the last European meeting in Copenhagen.  In addition to meeting expenses, the projected amount of non-meeting expenses is $160,000, which includes the two journals as well as other expenses such as the costs of managing members, web services, prizes and awards, and Technoscience.  Using Copenhagen as a model to estimate meeting expenses and revenue, Miller projects $13,592 of additional revenue at the end of the year leaving us with about $462,000.  This figure keeps the 4S budget within a steady state of between $450,000 and $500,000.  Suchman added that many 4S expenses are fixed and don’t allow for flexibility.

Publications: Gwen Ottinger discussed plans for advertising the forthcoming Handbook.  Plans are in place for a special panel at the Barcelona meeting.  Discussions are also ongoing between the committee and Daniel Kleinman and Katie Vann about how to further support ESTS.  Kleinman and Vann reported that they are receiving high quality submissions, but asked that we continue to work on expanding the network of contributors and readers.  Abby Kinchy suggested that the 4S blog and other 4S social media sites be used to promote the journal and Handbook.  One anticipated activity for Backchannels is to run a series of contributions from authors of chapters and editors of the Handbook.

Council discussed a review of fees paid for the managing editor position of ST&HV and ESTS.  No specific action was taken.  Since contract renewal with Sage for ST&HV will occur soon, we will need clarity about the society’s journal expenses before entering negotiations. 

Abby Kinchy reported on activity of the 4S Web Committee.  Kinchy noted that there are several assistant editors – all graduate students – who are working on the blog, social media team, and web resources with Oscar Maldonado.  The Committee assessed web resources available at the website and developed a plan to work on one resource each year.  This year the focus is course syllabi and teaching related materials.  The blog will be used as a medium for authors of syllabi to discuss teaching.  Kinchy reported that Backchannels has established a division of labor, with a goal of posting something new each week.  Kinchy also reported that our social media following has increased significantly in the past year.  Daniel Breslau added that the committee requests additional social media coverage of events and recommends that scholars tweet information from scholarly events that they’re attending.  Sulfikar Amir recommended that the blog consider running material from the 5-year anniversary of Fukushima. Suchman closed discussion by commending Kinchy, the 4S Web Committee, and assistants for their work.

Nominations Committee: Claire Waterton noted that we’re in the election season for 4S Council and President and an email request for nominations will be forthcoming.

Resolutions and Reports: Suchman noted that there are forthcoming items, but they are deferred until the next meeting.

Travel Grants: Oscar Maldonado indicated that the committee plans to finalize decisions by 1 June.

Program Chair for 2017 Meeting in Boston: Suchman requested recommendations from Council for program chair.  Breslau clarified the duties for program chair, noting that it requires someone with a good sense of the field along with good administrative and organizational skills.  Suchman suggested that we put together a program committee by June.

Future Meetings: Wes Shrum reported that we will meet in New Orleans in 2019.  We have a good venue there – a hotel that overlooks the Mississippi River.  The major decision yet to be made is for 2018 between Sydney and Bali.  Shrum indicated that Sydney would be easier to do.  Bali is quite pricey, but still doable.  Shrum also added that Graham Lucas has been conducting research on Sydney sites.  Although hotel deals are quite expensive, the University of New South Wales may be an appropriate venue.  Their dates are compatible with traditional 4S meeting dates and the price is reasonable.  One available time is 31 October to 5 November, when classes are not in session.  However, we would need to wait until Fall 2016 when 2018 class schedules are finalized.  Hotels are available near the university, but no university accommodations would be available.  Suchman noted that Sydney is preferable for several reasons and requested Council consensus to move in this direction.  One Council member raised a question about lodging expenses.  Shrum noted that Sydney has a wide range of hotel options.  If the membership wishes, we could also secure a block of rooms at a reduced rate from a hotel, however, this arrangement is usually only available at more expensive hotels.  Council members expressed no opposition to the Sydney site.

Suchman added that 4S was approached by SHOT for a joint 2021 meeting and that we have expressed initial interest.

ST&HV contract renegotiation:  A committee has been formed to develop ideas for a new contract with Sage.  The new contract will begin during Summer 2017.  There was some discussion about the committee and who might be included as a consultant.  Wes Shrum volunteered to serve in this capacity.

Suchman added that we need to begin thinking about a new editor for ST&HV.  Ed Hackett’s term ends next year.

Statement of Purpose:  Council discussed a report produced by Gary Downey and Claire Waterton to revise the 4S statement of purpose.  Waterton indicated that they looked at statements of purpose for other societies and drafted a new version for 4S.  Waterton requested that Council members put forward any recommendations for change. Suchman noted that once Council has given initial approval, it would be published in Technoscience for comments from the membership.

Discussion: Kinchy indicated that the committee had done a very good job.   However, she did find some awkward language around the various things that 4S does, recommending more clarity about what the society includes.  Suchman questioned whether we really need language on the range of what is included within 4S.  Ottinger pointed out that she likes the inclusion of “STS” within the description of what 4S includes.  Breslau raised a question about the relationship of 4S and STS – to what extent does one encompass the other.  Wylie suggested that we consider some of the language about objectives that is built into the EASST statement of purpose.  Waterton replied that a decision was made to avoid objectives and instead simply discuss what we do.  Suchman concluded the discussion by recommending that the committee collect further comments via email from Council before finalizing the document.  Suchman also congratulated the committee on its work to date.

Adhoc Committee on Data Sharing:  Suchman encouraged the committee to organize an event for the Boston meeting.  4S has received an invitation from ASIS International to collaborated on a joint session on data sharing for a May meeting in Washington.  David Ribes has been asked to serve on this panel and report back to the society.

Prize Committees:  Suchman announced the prize winners for this year and indicated that general announcements will be in forthcoming issues of Technoscience.

Conflict of Interest Document:  In response to a request from Council member Sulfikar Amir, Suchman suggested we add a general statement to the Conflict of Interest document indicating that if one is being considered for a prize they should not serve on the committee.  Suchman will send around an amended document.

Composition of Bernal Prize Committee:  Lucy noted that in the past the committee has been composed of the 4S President, previous winners, and another appointed person.  Suchman suggested that we formalize the committee composition, expand it, and possibly expand criteria for consideration.  This issue will be considered at a future Council meeting.  This year’s committee will need to be composed by our June council meeting.  Suchman suggested that we consider developing a nomination process for the Bernal Prize.

Honoraria for Mentoring and Infrastructure Award Winners:  Suchman asked for confirmation that these award winners receive monetary awards.  Miller confirmed that these individuals receive the $1000 honorarium.  Suchman suggested that we consider providing additional travel support in some situations where individuals may be traveling from a distance to attend the 4S meetings where they receive their awards.  This additional support could be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Making and Doing Session:  Suchman indicated that we will not have a Making and Doing session at Barcelona, but it will return at the Boston meeting.  There was some discussion about including monetary prizes for Making and Doing winners.  Suchman suggested that we avoid it due to the complexities that might emerge with the number of potential awardees and the resulting budget strains.  Kinchy suggested that we develop other types of awards rather than money.  Suchman tabled this item for later discussion.

Edge Prize: There was some discussion of the composition of the committee. 

Catalyst Proposal: Suchman indicated that 4S has received a request from the journal Catalyst for $4000 in support of editorial and design work for a period of three years – total $12,000.  In return 4S would receive recognition on the masthead of the journal and advertisements of 4S activity.  Suchman asked for Council’s thoughts about the request.  Miller asked whether there is a precedent for this support, adding that we’ve added about $60,000 in new costs to the budget since 2015 and expressing some concern about making up revenue that might be lost at the joint EASST/4S meetings.  Council members also expressed concern about the journal’s revenue model beyond the term of this support.  Kinchy suggested other avenues for developing a more formal connection to the journal.  Breslau asked about the nature of the relationship – would 4S be one of the sponsors?  Waterton raised concern about the nature of a request like this to the society.  Council discussed the prior mechanism of “New Initiatives” and its discontinuance.  Questions were raised about whether the society should create a new structure for considering funding requests like this or simply to treat them on an ad hoc basis.  Suchman indicated that a decision could be postponed until the next meeting to consider a formal mechanism and recommended that 4S have a close relationship to Catalyst to signify that we complement their activity.  Council will vote on this in the future.

LIBRARIA Participation.  Suchman announced that 4S will be participants in their activity, but will not be formally part of their structure.

EASST/4S Meetings:  Council considered a 6S request of $1000 for workshop support at the Barcelona meetings.  EASST has already provided support. Council members unanimously supported the proposal.

Meeting adjourned by Lucy Suchman at 11:30 AM