The New Year has arrived surprisingly fast – as it always seems to – and with it the midyear board meeting, which was held this year in San Diego instead of Washington DC. As your two elected Student and Early Career Representatives (and as such members of the board), Tamar Lazar (U of Haifa) and I took part in this extensive meeting over two days. We participated in discussions deciding ICA’s future course of action and raised student and early career issues whenever it was necessary. It was a great experience for both of us to attend this meeting and an opportunity to learn more about the mechanisms and politics of this unique organization.
During the meeting we discussed two important issues concerning the work of the Student and Early Career Advisory Committee (SECAC) and all student and early career members, which I would like to tell you about in this column.
Student Representation Strengthened Within the Organization
One significant issue to which I’ve dedicated my term as a Student and Early Career Representative is the student representation within ICA. Within the organization two strands of student/early career representation have recently evolved: (A) the Student and Early Career Representatives who are elected by ICA members and who work together with a designated SECAC in order to organize ICA annual conference events such as the Student and Early Career Reception, Blue Sky Workshops addressing questions and issues relevant to students and early career scholars, etc. (B) Many Divisions and Interest Groups (IG) have elected or nominated Student and Early Career Division Representatives who serve the individual needs of the young researchers within their divisions/IGs, provide the officers with feedback, and support their own initiatives for their academic offspring.
During the 2016 annual conference at Fukuoka, Japan the SECAC held its first business meeting, inviting all Student and Early Career Division Representatives to the meeting as well. Thus we finally combined these two strands of student representation within ICA. A second milestone was the restructuring of the SECAC. Starting with the 67th annual conference of ICA in San Diego the SECAC members rotating off the committee will be replaced by Student and Early Career Division Representatives. With this rule in place the two strands of student representation will remain connected in the future.
The last step towards consolidating the development of student representation for now was decided on during the midyear board meeting in San Diego. Thanks to the groundbreaking work of my predecessor François Allard-Huver, who raised the issue a couple of times during his term, we succeeded in promoting this effort: During the midyear board meeting Tamar and I proposed to change ICA’s organizational bylaws in order to make it obligatory for each division and IG to have a Student and Early Career Division Representative. Our proposition was accepted and we are very happy that ICA takes the role of students and early careers within the organization very seriously.
SECAC Takes a More Active Role in Integrating “First Timers”
Another issue raised during the meeting was the question of how the feeling of ‘community’ within ICA could be strengthened. Integrating new members and first time attendees to the annual conference is an important part of this issue. The task force that addressed this issue during the last months suggested that the SECAC is taking the lead on integrating student and early career scholars into ICA. As this is a central aspect of our work we will enthusiastically take on this responsibility.
Currently we are discussing various routes: One proposal that came up during the midyear board meeting is a so-called conference “buddy system.” The idea is that every first-time student/early career attendee could sign up for the program and be assigned to a more experienced student/early career member “buddy” who serves as a contact person for the new attendee and who mentors him or her so that he or she can make the best out of the conference. Another idea the SECAC discussed during our recent Skype meeting was holding a “first-timers” breakfast during the conference. To us this seems a perfect opportunity for first-time attendees who are not coming from big institutions and are not accompanied by various more experienced scholars from their home institution to get in touch with other students and early career members in an informal way. Of course, this is also a good way of conveying your wishes and needs to the SECAC and the representatives from your divisions/IGs.
As you can see, we are currently jugging with different ideas and concepts of how to approach this issue. If you have any ideas or are aware of such programs in your own division/IG or from other organizations we would be very happy if you could let us know! Please contact Tamar Lazar (email@example.com) or me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Preview on the Conference Location – San Diego
Besides attending the meeting, Tamar and I took the chance to take a look around downtown San Diego. We are very happy to report back that the Gaslamp Quarter – the oldest part of downtown San Diego – is only a few minutes away from the Hilton Bayfront hotel and easily accessible by foot. There you can find all kinds of restaurants, bars, and breweries serving drinks, coffee, and food from all around the world to reasonable prices, especially during lunch time.
Currently, we are also looking into the option of having our famous Student and Early Career Reception in one of those bars – at the moment we cannot promise anything, but we will definitely try!
For all of you who had a great time at the baseball stadium in Fukuoka last year – you will have the opportunity to repeat this experience in San Diego.Within five minutes’ walk you will reach the Petco Park – the home of the famous San Diego Padres.
As you can see, San Diego looks like a wonderful place to have a conference. I hope to meet many of you during our various events dedicated to student/early career members. Be sure to mark them in your personal conference program!