Outgoing Council Meeting, Toronto Canada, Tuesday, August 9, 2016 (5pm – 7pm)

International Rural Sociology Association
Outgoing Council Meeting
Toronto, Canada
Tuesday, August 9, 2016 (5pm – 7pm)

The Outgoing Council Meeting of the International Rural Sociological Association was called to order by President Lawrence at approximately 5:15 p.m.

Those originally present included:
a) Vaughan Higgins and Roger Wilkinson of AFRN
b) Motoki Akitsu of ARSA
c) Sergio Schneider of ALASRU
d) Mark Shucksmith and Terry Marsden of ESRS
e) Keith Moore and Shaunna Scott RSS
f) Geoffrey Lawrence (President), Raymond Jussaume (Secretary-Treasurer), Clare Hinrichs and Phil Mount (2016 Co-Program Chairs), and Mustafa Koç (2016 Co-Local Arrangements Chair).

The President welcomed the Council and asked if members had any items to add the proposed agenda. No additional items were offered.

Next, Council members introduced themselves, making note of their region and role on Council. Three incoming Council members were in attendance as observers. At this point, the Secretary-Treasurer noted that a quorum was present and that motions could be formally submitted for consideration.

The next agenda item was a report on the XIV World Congress by the Program Committee co-chairs (Phil Mount and Clare Hinrichs) and representatives of the Local Arrangements Committee (Mustafa Koç and Patrizia Albanese).

Clare Hinrichs reported for the program committee. Dr Hinrichs noted that the theme of the current Congress was “Sustainable and Just Rural Transitions: Connections and Complexities.” The goal was to develop a theme that would resonate across diverse geographic and national rural sociological contexts. There was a broad international committee that supported the co-chairs in developing the program. The committee developed five plenary panels for the Congress, and the Keynote Speaker, Professor Erik Olin Wright, was invited in collaboration with the (North American) Rural Sociological Society. As of August 5th, approximately 750 delegates from 59 countries were registered for the Congress. The largest number of delegates by country of origin were Canada with 220 delegates, the United States with 140, Mexico with 48, Japan with 45, the UK with 36 and Brazil with 23. Dr Hinrichs also noted that 53 delegates received Congress bursaries, 18 delegates received partial bursaries and 41 delegates were provided with complimentary registrations.

Mustafa Koç reported for the Local Arrangements Committee. Dr Koç noted that there was a strong working relationship between the local and program committees over the past three years. In addition to the program highlights noted by Dr Hinrichs, Dr Koç pointed out that there would be a special reception on Wednesday evening at the former Maple Leafs’ Garden as well as a special breakfast session during the Congress. Dr Koç also expressed thanks to the (North American) Rural Sociological Society for the $2,500 they provided to support travel for African scholars to the Toronto World Congress.

At this point, the following Motion was offered: That the reports for the Program Chair/s and Local Arrangements Committee Chair/s be accepted and that the Committee Chairs and members be congratulated for their efforts. The motion was moved by Dr Shucksmith and seconded by Dr Scott. The motion was carried by a unanimous vote.

The minutes of the previous two Council meetings were presented to the Council. The minutes of the Council meeting held in Lisbon were presented at the mid-term Council meeting in Yokohama and were approved by e-mail, as a quorum was not present at the mid-term meeting. The minutes from the Yokohama meeting were also presented. Both sets of minutes were shared with the Council before today’s meeting. Council members were asked if there were any corrections to be offered to either set of minutes.

Dr Lawrence noted that at the Yokohama Council a discussion was held about AON, which was established by Frank Vanclay in 2004 and had become the regional representative to IRSA from Australia/New Zealand. It was noted at the Yokohama meeting that AON had become defunct and an existing group was being identified for the role. The group was the Australasian Agrifood Research Network (whose acronym is AFRN). Roger Wilkinson reported that after the Yokohama meeting and discussions, members of AFRN met and confirmed that they wish to replace AON on the IRSA Council. The following Motion was then offered: That the IRSA Council formally endorse AFRN as the replacement for AON as IRSA’s regional organization representing Australia, New Zealand and Oceania. The motion was moved by Dr Wilkinson and seconded by Dr Marsden. The motion was carried by a unanimous vote.

President Lawrence then invited further discussion of the 2014 Yokohama minutes. He discussed the updating of materials on the IRSA web site and noted that he had written eight President’s Corners for the web site. Vaughan Higgins has been helping coordinate the facebook site on the web. Kjartan Sarheim Anthun of Norway continues to maintain the web site. Clare Hinrichs asked if there is a lot of traffic on the site. President Lawrence noted that there is not much information on web-site traffic, but Secretary-Treasurer Jussaume noted the benefit of the web site to Congress attendees, especially from low income regions, such as ALASRU. Many attendees value having their Congress abstracts posted to the web site as it provides evidence of their involvement in IRSA. Keith Moore asked if the abstracts from the current Congress will be transferred to the web site and also encouraged that the current web master make a report on web site traffic and use. At this point, a Motion was offered: That the Yokohama Minutes be accepted. The motion was moved by Dr Moore and seconded by Dr Wilkinson. The motion was carried by a unanimous vote.

Secretary-Treasurer Jussaume followed with the Quadrennial Report. Dr Jussaume noted that IRSA spent approximately $11,000 on web site maintenance for the 2012-2016 period. He also pointed out that all member associations were current with dues payments. Another highlight of the quadrennial report was the work that Keith Moore has been doing in expanding ties with African rural sociologists. (Dr Moore’s report follows.) Dr Jussaume noted that, overall, IRSA spent more over the past four years than it received in new income. While the financial health of IRSA is not in question, IRSA does need new sources of income moving forward. At this point, Council members discussed how financial support could be increased for IRSA, especially so that IRSA could support more participation to the World Congress from lower income countries. After the discussion, the Motion was made: That the Quadrennial Report as proposed be accepted. The motion was moved by Dr Koç and seconded by Dr Wilkinson. The motion was carried by a unanimous vote.

Secretary-Treasurer Jussaume also presented the Financial Report. He emphasized that, currently, there is a $30,000 positive balance in the IRSA savings account. Dr David Brown suggested some of these funds be put into an IRA. Dr Jussaume stated that he would do so. The Motion was then made: That the Financial Report be accepted. The motion was moved by Dr Wilkinson and seconded by Dr Higgins. The motion was carried by a unanimous vote.

The next agenda item was a presentation by RSS representative Dr Keith Moore on the possible formation of an African Rural Sociology Association. Dr Moore reported on what he had accomplished over the last four years. He noted that there are complications as far as establishing an African Rural Sociology Association are concerned. He did work with the local arrangements committee on bursaries and other possibilities for African scholars to attend the Toronto World Congress. Beginning in 2014, he tried to create a network of African scholars. He was able to create a list of about 30 African rural sociologists. There was some e-mail dialogue amongst these scholars but, at the moment, it is difficult for African scholars to see the benefits of creating an African Rural Sociology Association. A desire was expressed for some kind of common project that might help move African Rural Sociology forward. A session of five African rural sociologists will be a highlight of the 2016 World Congress. Funding was sought out, but is difficult. RSS did provide $2,500. After hearing Dr Moore’s report, Council members commended Keith for all his work.

The next agenda item was the consideration of a bid by Cairns, Australia, to host the 2020 World Congress of Sociology. The formal presentation was made by Dr Stewart Lockie. Dr Lockie informed the Council that the proposed World Congress would be hosted by the Cairns Institute at James Cook University. The proposed theme for the Congress is Sustainable Rural Development in the Urban Century. A full prospectus on the bid was handed out by Dr Lockie to Council members on a USB. This includes a preliminary which Dr Lockie asked Council members to please keep confidential: at this stage specific budgetary numbers are rough estimates. Given possible costs and registration estimates, Dr Lockie suggested that the registration fee might have to be about 50% more than Toronto World Congress. An animated discussion ensured amongst the Council members. Many World Congress attendees already think that the cost of attending the World Congress is too high. Dr Lockie was encouraged to do all that he could to find sponsors and otherwise work to lower the potential cost of attendance to a Cairns Congress. After the discussion, the motion was made: That Cairns, Australia, be recognised as the location for the 2020 World Congress, and that the In-coming Executive Committee finalise a Memorandum of Understanding for the hosting of the Congress. The motion was moved by Dr Scott and seconded by Dr Higgins. The motion carried by a unanimous vote.

After the vote, an ensuing discussion was led by President Lawrence on the timing of the Congress. In particular, members discussed what they thought would be the optimum time for scheduling the conference in order to maximize attendance. There are many issues involved, including the need to have the Congress not overlap with the Tokyo Olympics of 2020. This finally lead to a motion: That the next World Congress date be discussed by the Incoming Council with a recognition that reducing risks is important, but that the date will be sometime during the local winter (July to August). The motion was moved by Dr Shucksmith and seconded by Dr Moore. The motion carried by a unanimous vote.

At this point, Council member Dr Sergio Schneider presented a request from ALASRU that fees be kept at least where they are for future Congresses recognizing that costs for attending World Congresses are problematic for many ALASRU members. The Council accepted this request and agreed that maintaining affordable fees for Congress attendance is particularly important for supporting younger scholars.

Regarding the selection of keynote/panel speakers at future World Congresses, Dr Carol Richards, who was not in attendance, provided a note that female participation at the current World Congress was only 40%. She encouraged future Congress organizing committees to increase the IRSA commitment to diversity – of all kinds – at future World Congresses. One suggestion made was to consider organizing more panels of interest to diverse groups.

Finally, Dr Lawrence expressed his sincere gratitude to Ray Jussaume for his work as Secretary-Treasurer, to Keith Moore for his work on African participation, and to Vaughn Higgins for his work on the facebook section of the IRSA web site. Dr Lawrence stated how pleased he was to have been IRSA President for four years. Dr Lawrence then introduced incoming President Koichi Ikegami, who expressed his gratitude for his election to President, and acknowledged the strong responsibility he has for this role. He realises that there many future issues that need to be addressed.

At this point, Dr Lawrence closed the meeting.

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