Council Meeting Minutes July 7, 2002

Reidar Almas, Local Arrangements, 2004
Heather Aslin, AON
Hugh Campbell, AON
David Hansen, RSS
Stewart Lockie, AON
Phil McMichael, RSS
Mark Shucksmith, Program Chair, 2004
Hilary Tovey, ESRS
Frank Vanclay, President, IRSA

Alessandro Bonanno, RSS
Anita Brumer, ALASRU
Goran Djurfeldt, ESRS
Marit Haugen, Local Arrangements, 2004
Imre Kovach, ESRS
Bernardino Mata G., ALASRU
Diego Pineiro, ALASRU
Adboulaye Sene, Africa

Vanclay called the meeting to order at 1:45 p.m.

1.) Vanclay opened the session with a discussion of the minutes for the Council and General Assembly meetings in Rio. He asked if it would be appropriate to solicit formal acceptance of minutes of these meetings, which had been previously distributed by e-mail. He indicated that e-mail may be best way to solicit feedback on minutes given that not all Council members are able to attend all of the meetings. Vanclay moved that minutes for July 30 and August 4, 2000 Council meetings be adopted. Lockie seconded the motion, which was unanimously passed. Vanclay noted that minutes for the 2,000 General Assembly will be presented for adoption at the following General Assembly in Trondheim in 2004.

2.) Vanclay then initiated a discussion of the significance of the mid-term meeting. He asked if IRSA should give it a high profile given potential importance for planning the next World Congress. Council members concurred with this perspective, and supported the notion that all Council members should be encouraged to attend future meetings.

3.) Hansen then presented an updated Financial Report for the Association. It documented expenditures and receipts of funds since March, 2001, when he initiated his tenure in this position. Aslin moved that the statement be received and approved by Council. Seconded by Tovey, the motion was unanimously approved.

4.) Vanclay initiated a discussion about member associations. He brought up a recurrent problem of timely receipt of dues payments from member associations. Currently, ESRS, ALASRU, RSS and AON are in good standing. Discussion focused on RUM and the fact that it was an active regional association in the past, but that it have not been active for some time, nor has it paid dues for some time. Almas proposed that the Secretary/Treasurer make all reasonable attempts to have RUM pay its dues prior to the end of the year. He motioned that if it does not pay its dues by the end of the year, it should no longer be considered to be a member of IRSA. This motion was seconded by Aslin and unanimously passed.

5.) Vanclay then moved the discussion to the membership status of ARSA. ARSA has participated in previous IRSA activities; and Japanese representatives actually presented a bid for the 2004 World Congress in Rio. Vanclay mentioned that ARSA has had representatives on Council, but that it has as yet not made formal application to join IRSA. Tovey motioned that IRSA treat ARSA membership and dues payments in the same way as for RUM. The motion was seconded by Aslin and adopted unanimously.

6.) Shucksmith noted that interaction with ARSA should be handled with great tact, given the complexities of East and Southeast Asian national politics. Vanclay mentioned that IRSA is seriously considering Asia as the site for the 2008 World Congress. He argued that the opportunity to host the World Congress can be used to encourage them to formally join IRSA. Tovey asked about rural sociology in India. Vanclay indicated that it has been present in India as a discipline for a long time, but that it is embedded in sociology as a discipline. Vanclay mentioned that it would be nice if ARSA could officially host the Congress. Tovey indicated that ARSA would have to be a solid member by 2004 if it were to host the 2008 conference.

7.) Since the Rio Council meeting, IRSA’s African regional representative has been Prof Abdouleye Sene, who has been the principal link between CODESRIA (the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa) and IRSA. Vanclay communicated with CODESRIA last year. Sene recently reconfirmed with Vanclay that CODESRIA is interested in becoming a member of IRSA.

8.) Vanclay then discussed proposed changes to the Constitution. He indicated that we need to change the fee structure, because it is inequitable for less developed regions and because IRSA has found it difficult to collect dues. He further indicated that other organizations also wanted to join IRSA. Tovey asked why we favor regional member associates as opposed to national member associates? Vanclay indicated that this was for historical reasons – regional associations (ESRS, RSS and ALASRU) originally formed IRSA. He noted that they might question why national associations were to be admitted. Another concern might be the potential large number of representatives on Council that could result. Tovey suggested that individual national rural sociological organizations should have full representation on Council. Considerable discussion followed. In closing the discussion, Vanclay proposed that the issue be decided at the 2004 General Assembly and he indicated that he would draft several alternative wordings to be considered by the Assembly. The proposal was approved by Council.

9.) In response to points raised by Tovey, Vanclay proposed that Article 3.a of the Constitution be amended by adding the clause, “subject to the approval of Council” and by deleting this wording from various places in Article 3.b. This proposal was approved by Council.

10.) Vanclay then discussed the proposed revision in By-laws. He mentioned that changes to the membership structure implied changes in the fee structure as well. Hansen raised a concern about the considerable loss of revenue to IRSA that would result from this proposed change. Vanclay recalled a statement he made at the Rio Council meeting that ‘whether IRSA liked it or not, it was inevitably “in the Conference business”.’ IRSA’s main source of income should be revenue surpluses from Conferences. He indicated that a small percentage surplus from a Conference would make membership fee income almost insignificant by comparison, given the large amount of funding involved in Conferences. Almas indicated that we will then need to be very careful about where we will hold Conferences. He questioned whether it would be possible to get Conference organizers to think in terms of generating surpluses. He thought that the Rio Conference was somewhat atypical and that, even for the Trondheim meetings, it would be difficult to generate a surplus. Others also raised a concern that “international conferences” can have high levels of financial risk associated with them. Tovey opposed the notion that one of the purposes of Conferences was to generate “profits.” (surplus revenues). The appropriateness of using Conference surplus revenues to support developmental work by IRSA was also raised. Tovey asked if membership fees under the reduced fee structure would be sufficient to cover the development costs of IRSA. Vanclay indicated that this would probably not be the case. A system of differential fees was discussed at length with members agreeing that a differential system should be considered. Council agreed to consider this further and Vanclay indicated that differential fees would be included in the options to be presented to the General Assembly in 2004.

11.) Vanclay indicated that By-law 11, which deals with the audit of IRSA finances, will be changed by deleting the term “professional auditor,” since this category is not readily used in the USA. A senior figure associated with IRSA will asked to perform this service. Council approved this action.

12.) In discussing the IRSA Procedural Manual, questions were again raised about the World Congresses generating “profit.” The point was raised that acceptable surpluses generated by some Congresses are needed to buffer possible losses by other Congresses in order to promote their occurrence in regions of the world where “financial risk” is greater. Vanclay agreed to change the language in the section on “Organisational Arrangements relating to Congresses” to reflect these concerns.

13.) It was suggested that the wording of the section on “Reimbursement of Expenses” be changed to reflect that, on occasion, the President may be represented by an appropriate Council member. Council members approved the proposed change in wording.

14). Vanclay moved and Tovey seconded that IRSA make a contribution towards the costs for the Secretary/Treasurer, acting as the President’s representative, to attend the ALASRU meetings in Porto Alegre in November, 2002. This motion was unanimously passed.

15.) Vanclay asked if we want to identify a preferred site for 2008, namely, Africa or Asia. Considerable discussion ensued. Lockie asked if individual country associations could present a bid. Almas moved and Tovey seconded that priority be given to Africa and Asia. This motion passed unanimously.

16.) Almas discussed the 2004 meeting in Trondheim. The Congress will be held from July 25-30. A contract has been signed with a private firm to manage it. Over 500 participants are expected. Budgeting is based on scenarios that involve from 350 to 700 participants. Cheap hotel and university rooms have been reserved for the Conference.

17.) Almas reported that translators, f used, will consume from 10-20% of the proposed budget for the 2004 Congress in Trondheim. He recommended that it be an English language Conference only. Considerable discussion of appropriate language policy for the Conference followed. Summarizing the discussion, Almas was asked to pursue all possible avenues to secure sponsorship, specifically for translation. It was suggested that French embassies might have finances available for this purpose. Should he be unsuccessful in obtaining this sponsorship, Council reluctantly accepted the fact that no translation services would be provided.

18.) Shucksmith had previously circulated the proposed World Congress theme statement. Vanclay moved that Almas and Shucksmith immediately be authorized to distribute the Program Theme, including at the ISA meeting in Brisbane. The motion was seconded by Lockie and unanimously passed.

19.) Almas agreed to prepare a plan of action for the Conference in 2004 to be presented to Council for its consideration and guidance.

20.) Vanclay updated Council on IRSA Journal Task Force activities. Norman Long, the nominated editor, had recently asked to withdraw from this obligation. Several other assumptions regarding the development of the journal have not materialized, and the required outside sponsorship has not been achieved. Given the JAI/Elsevier book series, which the IRSA Executive Committee had endorsed, it was felt that there was a potential overlap between the proposed journal and the book series. Vanclay felt that IRSA’s objective in having a journal could be met by endorsement of the book series. Vanclay proposed that he officially inform CABI that we are not pursuing the journal initiative at this time. This motion was seconded by Aslin and unanimously passed.

21.) The IRSA Council ratified the Executive Committee’s actions in endorsing the JAI/Elsevier Book Series to be edited by Fred Buttel. The Executive Committee had previously nominated Norman Long, in his projected capacity as IRSA’s Journal Editor, to be IRSA’s representative on the Advisory Board for the Book Series. However, given the decision not to pursue creation of the journal, Vanclay suggested that it was no longer obvious that Norman Long should represent IRSA. Tovey moved that Frank Vanclay be IRSA’s representative. The motion was seconded by Shucksmith and unanimously passed. Given that Fred Buttel had specifically requested that Norman Long continue to be on the Advisory Board, Vanclay was instructed to advise Buttel that IRSA will support any arrangement to involve Long in an advisory capacity to the Book Series.

Meeting adjourned at 5:45 p.m.

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