FAQs

Does my committee/caucus have funds?

For Committees: The only committee with an ongoing budget is the Committee on Education and Engagement, thanks to an endowed fund. Other committees may request funding for their activities but this needs to be proposed as a justified budget and submitted to the Executive Committee in time for its spring meeting, which is when the Society’s budget is discussed. The Society will begin fundraising in the near future and this will be a good time for committees to revisit the strategic plan to request funding for their activities. All fundraising must be coordinated through the Executive Office.

For Caucuses: All Caucuses, as a rule, have $300 each year for their activities, usually at the annual meeting. This money cannot be rolled over from year to year. We will accept sponsorships for Caucus activities but any sponsorship, and this applies to all committees and caucuses, must be vetted through the Executive Office.

Is my committee a standing committee?

The changes to our bylaws clarified our committee structure. We have 3 standing committees: Executive Committee (comprised of officers), Finance Committee, and Nominating Committee. Since these committees are mentioned in the bylaws, any changes require approval by Council and by the membership. All other committees are “advisory” committees and are just as important as the standing committees (these committees are described in the Society’s Procedures Manual. Some of these committees, such as the Committee on Publications, can be traced to the HSS’s beginnings. These committees’ member should include at least one Council member and at least two other members. Members are appointed by the Executive Committee and approved by Council.

How many members should my committee have?

As noted in the bylaws, there must be at least 3 members of a committee but most have many more. For example, the Committee on Meetings and Programs has around 12 members, and includes program co-chairs, local arrangements, etc.

When are the biannual reports due?

We will send out a request for reports about 4 weeks before they are due. The first report is usually due in late April for a May Executive Committee meeting. That is the meeting where the budget is discussed for the next fiscal year (July to June) and so that report should include any budget requests. The report will also be shared with Council for its virtual meeting in June. The second report’s date is tied to the annual meeting, which usually occurs on November. So we ask for reports in October. The annual meeting is the only time that Council meets face to face and will have time to discuss reports at length. This is the best time to raise issues that require Council discussion. We also will be asking committee, caucus, and interest group leaders to provide a report for an annual report of the Society. We would like to place some excerpts from these reports in the Newsletter.

What are the terms for my committee/caucus?

For Committees typical appointments are on the calendar year and last 3 years, with the possibility of renewal. There are some exceptions: terms on the Committee on Publications are 5 years with each member becoming secretary in their 4th year and chair in their final year. Terms for the Committee on Finance are two years, with the option for renewal.

For Forums and Interest Groups: Due to an increasing number of forums, the Society has decided to designate an entire morning of the annual meeting for Interest group business meetings, sponsored sessions, roundtables, speakers, etc. The Society typically does not provide funding for the interest groups but Forum leaders may wish to review the HSS strategic plan and propose an activity that meshes with the plan and for which the Society could request funds. All fundraising must be coordinated through the Executive Office.

How do committees, caucuses, and interest groups differ?

Committees deal directly with Society governance. For example, the Committee on Meetings and Programs focuses on all aspects of the annual meeting, such as recommending program chairs to the Executive Committee. These members and their recommendations must be approved by Council since they are “advisory” and thus advise Council, which is the ultimate authority for the HSS. Caucuses address issues that affect how the history of science is practiced. For example, the Women’s Caucus, our oldest caucus, focuses on the role of women in the history of science. Interest groups look at research areas in the field. The Physical Sciences Forum’s members are concerned with the history of the physical sciences, with the exception of chemistry since we also have a forum on the history of chemistry.

When my committee, caucus, or interest group makes a recommendation, what happens next?

Any action item from an HSS group first goes to the Executive Committee. If the EC has no further questions, and the recommendation requires Council approval, it goes to Council for consideration at its next meeting (Council meets twice a year). If the EC has questions, those are transmitted to the group. If your report has no action items listed, the Council will accept it as read and it will go to the consent agenda. If you wish feedback on an idea, please list it as an action item.