From ESA – Strategies & Activities
Following the ESA Executive Committee meeting held in October 2021, both the Committee and the President expressed a desire for broader and more open consultations with the membership on matters of great importance to the Association. Upon a request of the Executive Committee under the direction of the President, the responsibility for all such collegial consultations has been placed on and undertaken by the Policy Committee.
One matter is that of pandemic repercussions on conferences and congresses. Among others, the International Sociological Association (ISA) has decided to move the date of its World Congress to be held in Melbourne, Australia, from 2022 to 2023. Therefore, taking the exceptional circumstances into consideration, the ESA Executive Committee requested an urgent consultation with the membership as to whether the 16th ESA Conference should be postponed from 2023 to 2024.
Deferral is advised because two major conferences in a single year (ISA and ESA) may subject members to scheduling conflicts as well as undue financial strain. Additionally, the ISA World Congress of Sociology and ISA Forum of Sociology would thus continue to coincide with ESA conferences in the future. The permanent overlap would also place the ESA under increased fiscal pressures. Hence a decision was made by the Executive Committee to take a poll among the ESA membership to determine whether members would prefer postponing our conference to 2024.
All members in good standing were invited to vote in the above-mentioned consultation in November and December 2021. If the majority recommends holding to the 2023 date, then preparations will continue as is. If the majority recommends that the 16th ESA Conference should be held in 2024, then the President will call – per Article 5 of the Statutes – a formal General Assembly (to be held online) in order for a collective and conclusive decision to be affirmed with regard to all three of the following: 1) postponing the conference to 2024, 2) extending by one year the term of office for the current Executive Committee, and 3) extending membership for ESA members in good standing for one additional year with no additional fees. Participation of the membership will be of vital importance because the democratic decision taken during the General Assembly will be final and binding.
A second, concurrent matter for consultation is a holistic review and revision of the ESA Statutes to be completed during the 2021–2023 term, in accordance with a General Assembly postulate declared by majority vote in Barcelona on 3 September 2021. Here, too, the Policy Committee will open up consultations by inviting and including the ESA Research Networks and National Associations; meetings are to be called soon with the Council of Research Networks and the Council of National Associations to comprehensively discuss the directions which changes to the Statutes might take. To maximize the representative depth of these consultations, the Policy Committee asks that RN Coordinators and Board Members as well as National Association Board Members relay inquiries, comments, or suggestions from the membership.
The primary objective is to collectively find ways by which ESA governance and operations could better fit the needs of the Association’s membership in the present – but also flexibly adapt to fluctuations in the future. Other foci are the scope of administrative support to better serve the timely organization of ESA conferences, improved functionality to meet 21st century demands, and increased pro bono, in-kind contributions by ESA members to amplify collegiality.
Based on the outcomes of the consultation process the Policy Committee will prepare a proposal for modifications and/or changes to specific provisions in the ESA Statutes. Per article 5 of the Statutes currently in force, this proposal must be available in Spring 2023 to allow for sufficient discussion before being put to a democratic, General Assembly vote.
Author: Kaja Gadowska
Institutional affiliation: Institute of Sociology of the Jagiellonian University