EASST Council held its fourth 2021 meeting in December where we discussed a number of issues and questions. Most importantly, we heard about the progress of the organization of the EASST conference to be held in Madrid. As our Conference Chair, Vincenzo Pavone, aptly put it, we are all ‘taking a leap of faith’ in planning for an in-person conference. We hope that it will be possible to come together and see each other in real life after this very long virtual existence. We discussed options of streaming plenaries and making recorded presentations possible, but for financial reasons we will not be able to make a fully hybrid conference. However, we will do our best to accommodate to whatever conditions we will meet in July. Since the Council meeting we have unfortunately learned that we have to postpone the dates one week due to a NATO Summit (they have basically taken our space at the IFEMA conference centre). We also have to admit that some conference fees will be more expensive than at previous conferences. Council has chosen to prioritize relatively cheap participation for concession members, but this means that regular fees become more expensive as the conference venue is not cheap (but the only viable option). Nevertheless, I am sure we will end with a great conference. I am already very grateful to the local organizing team for all the work they have put into this.
We also discussed our journals, including a need to formalize and make transparent our governance system for the journals. We are very happy with the development of our two publications, the S&TS Journal and the EASST Review, but we are also aware that the entire publication landscape is undergoing dramatic changes. A first step will be to formalize governance structures and make them available for EASST members. Next year we will engage in a bigger discussion on how we want the European STS publication ecology to develop further. Finally, we spent some time agreeing on a new setup for admin support of EASST. We will change our contract with NomadIT so that they provide all the admin backup we need.
Lastly, we said a heartfelt thank you to President Ulrike Felt, whose term is ending this year. Uli has done a tremendous job for EASST (besides being a central figure in STS in so many other ways) and we cannot thank her enough. We were all sad that we could not meet up in Vienna in person to congratulate her on a job well done. As the new president I will make certain to express our gratitude to Uli once again at the general members meeting at the July conference.