General Assembly Minutes

Minutes from IRSA General Assembly Meeting
Hotel Gloria, Rio de Janeiro
August 2, 2000

President Molnar called the meeting to order at 18:35. He welcomed those in attendance and introduced representatives from the IRSA member societies. He indicated that since the Secretary/Treasurer, Al Luloff, was not present, there were no minutes from the last meeting of the General Assembly in Romania to be read.

President-elect Vanclay reported that 1521 registrations had been received for the Congress. He indicated the need for workshop coordinators to give more attention to time constraints because IRSA must pay for rooms by the hour. He asked that workshop summary forms be given to Congrex staff for final report preparation.

Tovey reported that some participants were concerned about the fees for all social events being charge separately rather than being included in the registration fee. Some attendees voiced concern about their limited budgets for the Congress and their ability to attend these events. Molnar replied that costs for many Conference activities were not included in the registration fee to keep it as low as possible. He noted that IRSA needs to better inform future Congress attendees about these decisions. He also mentioned that spare CD ROMs are available for 10 Brazilian Reales. Molnar announced that IRSA and the Conference organizers have granted permission for participants to copy any of them.

Program Chair Vanclay gave his report which emphasized (1) that translators had worked very hard and that IRSA is grateful to them; and (2) that costs for translations were very high, which limited the ability to provide this service. He thanked workshop coordinators for attending the training session which contributed to the success of the Conference. Tovey expressed concerns about how decisions were made about where to use translators. She noted that none were available in the Rural Women sessions. Vanclay explained that the plenary sessions and symposia had translators, but that workshops did not because of the lack of translators and funding. Tovey mentioned that symposia should have had representatives, thus ensuring that each major area of interest had been covered.

ARSA representatives recommended that Portuguese and English sessions not be integrated. Rather they argued that they might have been best held in separate rooms, since they were a waste of time for many because of language difficulties. Vanclay replied that a goal of the international conference was to mix the presentations and that workshop paper presenters were asked to hand out English and other language abstracts in the sessions.

Molnar gave the Treasurer’s Report. He reported a current balance of US$19,359. He noted that several regional associations were delinquent in paying membership dues payments, especially RUM. He further noted that this Congress had generated surplus revenues, although final numbers are not yet in.

Molnar asked for Vanclay to discuss proposed Constitutional revisions. Vanclay reported that a concern had been expressed about sexist language in the Constitution at the 1992 IRSA meeting at Penn State. Upon closer scrutiny, Council recognized that the Constitution was unworkable, because procedures were unclear. It recognized a need for a major overhaul. Council thus appointed a Task Force which held many meetings, which included discussions about the IRSA website. The final version of these revisions has been on the website for over a year with comments from IRSA Council members. The revised document was forwarded to IRSA members for comments six months ago. And IRSA Council approved the proposed changes to the Constitution at its meeting on Sunday, July 30. Changes include:

  • removal of sexist language;
  • internationalization of language;
  • voting by e-mail;
  • correction of logical ambiguities in language;
  • creation of logical flow;
  • discussion of procedures to meet quorums and membership proxy voting;
  • reduced terms of office from 8 to 4 years with the understanding that elected members are eligible to hold office for eight consecutive years if they receive continued support from member associations (done to create better liaison between regional representatives and the IRSA Executive Committee.
  • alteration of presidential terms among member associations each four years; and
  • transfer of much of the authority of the President to the IRSA Executive Committee and IRSA Council.

Vanclay further clarified that IRSA’s Council members had received these proposed changes to the Constitution several months prior to the World Congress and that they had unanimously approved them. Molnar asked for questions about the proposed changes. There being none, he asked for a motion to endorse the changes to the IRSA Constitution. Djurfeldt moved for adoption of the changes, and Tovey seconded. The motion was unanimously passed.

Molnar then expressed his thanks for the support he had received from the IRSA Council and for the hard work undertaken by the Council members. He then asked if there was any new business. He recognized Arch Haller, who noted that despite IRSA being 25 years old, that it still has continuity problems for several reasons. First, he noted that IRSA was created by FAO in the late 1960’s. Alvaro Chaparro, PhD from Penn State, was then an FAO officer in Rome. He and FAO wanted to establish an international rural sociological association, but needed at least three regional associations to do so. At the time, only RSS and ESRS existed. ALASRU was created to make it possible. IRSA was created in 1972 at the University of Sao Paulo, and its first President was Jose Pastore. Haller recommended that Council reestablish relations with FAO in order to facilitate institutional continuity. Second, he suggested that Council consider identifying an Historian for IRSA to promote long-term continuity and service to the Council.

Molnar then gave his president’s report. He highlighted the ARSA edited compilation of papers from its 1999 Conference. He then commented on the large amount of work that was done over the past four years, noting that this effort was greatly facilitated by e-mail. It greatly facilitated communication flow and fostered more connectivity among members. He also highlighted the new website which acts as a central node for rural scholars. IRSA outputs are the World Congress, which is held every four years, the website, and a journal/periodic review, similar to the Journal of Economic Literature, which is being considered. He noted that Vanclay will appoint a Task Force to look into the creation of an IRSA journal. He presented Vanclay as the new IRSA President, Bonanno as the First Vice-President, and Kovach as the Second Vice-President. He then thanked everyone for their valuable contributions to IRSA during the past four years.

Antmann thanked Molnar for the leadership he has given to IRSA during this period. Vanclay then provided an outline of potential priority topics to be addressed during the coming four years. He emphasized the following points:

  • IRSA is a membership association designed to build links, and it needs to focus on the World Congress in 2004 in order to be successful.
  • IRSA needs transparent administrative and site selection processes.
  • IRSA needs to constantly review its Constitution in order to keep it current and it needs to constantly review its By-laws to be sure that they are compatible with the Constitution.
  • IRSA needs to address its history on its website and to consider creation of the office of Historian.
  • IRSA needs to work on rebuilding the links with FAO.
  • IRSA needs to consider a possible new role for itself as a clearinghouse for international rural sociology information, thus extending its utility beyond that of a member association.
  • IRSA needs to establish clear procedures for selecting World Congress sites (He mentioned that two bids had been received for the 2004 World Congress Ð from Kyoto, Japan and from Trondheim, Norway Ð and that the bid from Trondheim had been accepted, but with the bid from Kyoto being maintained in the event that other not work out. He proposed that IRSA work with ARSA to enable them to host the World Congress in 2008. IRSA cannot guarantee this to happen, but it can increase the probabilities of it happening.
  • IRSA needs to continue to work with a possible member association in Africa. CODESRIA Ð Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa. IRSA will work with CODESRIA to build African membership.
  • IRSA needs to have a twelve year planning horizon.

Molnar called for any questions for Vanclay. Tovey asked about connections with the International Sociological Association that might facilitate the work of IRSA. Molnar responded that this is an excellent point, but that there are many different international sociology associations that might be considered in the same light.

Molnar formally closed the meeting at 19:35

Submitted by Douglas Constance, Acting Secretary.

Members present at IRSA General Assembly.




Monica Bendini

Universidad Nacional de Comahue


Cathy Kassab

By the Numbers, U.S.


Carlos Antmann

Universidad Autonoma de Chile


Archibald Haller

University of Wisconsin, U.S.


Josefa S. Cavalcante

Federal University of Pernambuco, Brasil


Jiwoong Cheong

Seoul National University, Korea


Chija Kim Cheong

Seoul National University, Korea


Erland Eklund

University of Helsinki, Finland


Reidar Almas

Centre for Rural Research, Norway


Anita Brumer

Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil


Alan Hall

University of Windsor, Canada


Kryztof Gorlach

Jagiellonion University, Poland


Hugh Campbell

University of Otago, New Zealand


Stewart Lockie

Central Queensland University, Australia


Mark Shucksmith

University of Aberdeen, Scotland


Rosiady Sayuti

Matarum University, Indonesia


Atsushi Kitahara

Nagoya University, Japan


Guiging Shi

NRCR, Hubei University, China


Imre Kovach

Institute for Political Science, Hungary


Hilary Tovey

Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland


Bernardino Mata

Universidad Autonoma de Chapingo, Mexico


Goran Djurfeldt

University of Lund, Sweden


Douglas Constance

Sam Houston State University, U.S.


Joseph Molnar

Auburn University, U.S.


Frank Vanclay

Charles Sturt University, Australia


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