The next generation of teachers, scholars and leaders in the history of science gathered at the 2007 HSS meeting to build a network of relationships and resources especially for graduate students and early career scholars. With approximately 40 people in attendance at this first business meeting, the new Graduate and Early Career Caucus (GECC) elected officers and apprised attendees of the kinds of information and tools most relevant to our training and professional development. Supporting our newest scholars in developing a network of colleagues and a toolbox of skills is also good practice for the future of our discipline as a whole.
Dawn Digrius (Drew University) called the GECC business meeting to order and invited attendees to sign up for the group’s listserv, one of several new communications resources to help connect our far-flung membership. The gathering recognized HSS President Joan Cadden, and heard about a meeting of graduate students the previous year to inform them about the Society and its publications. Digrius and Jacqueline Wernimont (Brown University) volunteered to begin organizing graduate students and early careerists for HSS, based on the caucus model in similar professional organizations.
Attendees at this year’s meeting discussed the need for leadership positions and elected five officers to guide the Caucus through its early development. Digrius, Wernimot and Suzanne Fischer (University of Minnesota) were elected as co-chairs and alternate co-chair, in hopes of providing the group with sustained leadership through the vicissitudes of our early years as professionals. In addition, Lynnette Regouby (University of Wisconsin) was elected coordinator of Communications, and Taika Dahlbom (University of Turku, Finland) as coordinator of Evaluations. The leadership agreed to arrange a web-based meeting to discuss our next steps, and to share their minutes with the rest of the Caucus membership.
Among the most urgent resources we identified were ways of staying better connected as a community of scholars-in-training. Regouby and Fischer had already created a WordPress blog at http://hssgecc.wordpress.com to provide a center of communications and resources for the Caucus, as well as to provide an easy point of entry into the community for graduate students and early careerists new to the Caucus. Our hope is that the Blog and its resources will also help keep connected the colleagues who are unable to attend meetings in person, and offer a forum in which we can share ideas, questions and concerns. Another important component of the Caucus’ communications network is the GECC Announcements listserv. Reaching the entire constituency of our international membership, this e-mail list allows us to share and discuss ideas, issues and announcements with our peers. Especially during the period prior to meetings, the listserv also serves as a bulletin board for information about affordable housing, ridesharing and roommates – no small concern to those of us living the austere life of new scholars.
Digrius also welcomed Fred Kronz, Director of the Science, Technology and Society (STS) Program at the National Science Foundation. Kronz offered a very helpful presentation about the financial support available through the NSF for History of Science research, and directed us to his department’s web page at http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=5324&org=SES&from=home. Reporting that STS has a budget of $8.5M, expected to continue growing at about 7% per year, Kronz urged us to contact program officers with a project summary; attendees experienced with NSF opportunities concurred that staff have offered great advice on applying for funding.
HSS President Cadden offered her advice on pursuing formal recognition by HSS, based on Special Interest Groups, forums, and the Women’s Caucus as potential models for the GECC. Next steps for the Caucus will include looking to these precedents for examples of mission statements, refinements to our leadership structure, and models of member involvement. Because the constituency of the Caucus remains fluid by design, attendees urged that membership be determined by self-identification.
Running short on time, Digrius acknowledged that we were going to have to leave further business unfinished, including discussion about the creation of SIGs and potential models of mentoring and outreach. Roger Turner (University of Pennsylvania) reported that he had successfully contacted editors of the publishing houses of Rutgers, MIT and Chicago to arrange a speaker for next year’s meeting. In the meantime, we hope to continue reaching out to graduate students and early careerists who don’t know about the GECC. If you’re a graduate student or early careerist and not yet part of the listserv, we invite you to subscribe by sending an email to email@example.com. If you know of anyone who could benefit from more collegial connections and access to helpful resources, please direct them to this article. We also welcome feedback or suggestions about the Caucus’ next steps, so don’t hesitate to make your voice heard by contacting the officers firstname.lastname@example.org.