SRN Executive Minutes – February

Minutes of SRN EC Meeting
held on Monday 15.2.2021 at 9 pm BST/GMT/UTC+1 (via Zoom)

Circulation list: Carmen Sofia Brenes (CSB), Rose Ferrell (RF), Ann Igelström (AI), Rafael Leal (RL), Margaret McVeigh (MM), Paolo Russo (PR), Rosanne Welch (RW)


1. Apologies for absence


2. Minutes of previous EC Meeting for approval

All pending Action Points have been itemized in the agenda.

Approved by all present

3. Website

Renewal of website host

RL confirmed Leeds University is willing to renew. Professor Claudia Sternberg will serve as liaison with the Admin Team at Leeds to cover fee (£ 100 a year) via her department budget. Ian MacDonald will manage contracts. RL will liaise with the IT team at Leeds to double check specs for the website.

PR remarks need to wait admin paperwork is finalized before discharging the issue, although this now looks like a favourable outcome.

RF informs the EC that she too had tried to liaise with contacts at Edith Cowan University who she thought might be interested. Although no reply was received, this could be an option to keep in mind for any future renewals.

Update on Call for translations for new slogan

RF has sent images of the banner with the “We Welcome All.” slogan. She asks whether each language should include the English translation. PR replies there is no need for it because the placement of the banner on the website will make the meaning self-evident.

RF asks RL how the animation of dissolving text can be made. RL suggests the easiest way will be to use a plug in. But Leeds may not allow even free plug-ins due to tech limitations of their web design.

ACTION POINT: RL to liaise with Leeds IT team to figure out the best way to update the banner. Then, RL to inform RF on how to proceed.

ACTION POINT: EC Members to review banner and offer suggestions to RF.

4. Membership update (RF)

RF informs that since the Porto conference (Sep 2019) 160 new members have joined the SRN, while 38 left the Network.

RF points out that some members, though, have simply changed email address and re-joined.

5. Newsletter (MM)

Adjourned to March meeting.

ACTION POINT: PR to contact MM to check whether an extension is needed for the forthcoming issue.

6. Social Media

AI reports recent post re: article by Sengupta on Hinduphobia.

PR relays two requests received from Members.

AI will post an obituary on Jean-Claude Carriere, who was one of the keynote speakers at the Brussels conference in 2011.

Another post will regard the Global Film Industry call for submissions to form writers’ networking groups.

AI informs of intention to post a Call for Abstracts reserved to Early Career Researchers to participate in an ad-hoc symposium (to be held locally or online via Zoom) in line with similar events organized by previous ECTs. The event would give a chance to Early Researchers to practice their presentation skills and to be heard by more experienced members of the SRN.

The EC agrees this is a commendable initiative and PR suggests the previous ECRs can share their experience with AI.

RF notes that even small symposia take a lot of work to organize, and shares news of event held at her university where ECRs did 3-minute presentations, followed by a 10-minute Q&A panel.

RL too shares a similar event he organized at his university: 4-minute pitches to a panel followed by a 4-minute feedback session.

PR notes that AI can of course consider various presentation formats – e.g. pecha-kucha (20x20x400”), traditional papers, posters, etc.

CSB suggests asking senior researchers to attend a few presentations so as to act as informal mentors. It is important to create connections with members who will represent the future of the SRN.

PR agrees that senior academics’ generosity should benefit younger ECRs, as it has always been encouraged within the SRN.

ACTION POINT – AI to keep EC updated on any development.

SRN history Zoom talks

RF has got very positive response from Ian, Eva, and Ronald about participating. In terms of format, there will be a lot of ground to cover, and therefore it would be good for this first event to be more “general”

RL notes that recording Zoom sessions looks best with 4 people on screen at any given time. The suggestion is to change the settings of the Zoom sessions so as to show the 4 guests on the screen. The host and any other attendees can add questions via the chat box. We can then assess whether this approach works and decide whether in the second event we should try a straight interview approach instead, with one organizer at a time.

PR reminds of the need to accommodate the time of the event around the various time zones of all guests and of CSB, who will be hosting the first session.

Action Point – RF to liaise with guests to confirm a date/time and coordinate organization with CSB, RL and PR. RL to help out re: tech support before/during event. PR to arrange recording via Zoom.

Update on SRN2021 conference

PR will send update to Membership within a few days. At present, there are three possible scenarios: 1) In person, 2) hybrid, 3) entirely virtual.

Current situation in UK: lockdown still enforced for several more weeks, although a review of the restrictions is expected on 22 February. This should lead to a gradual reopening of university campuses starting on 8 March. However, some restrictions may remain in place for a much longer time: e.g. a physical conference will likely still require social distancing (which implies a significantly reduced capacity of any venue) and wearing masks/face covering. Can a conference be run that way?

Furthermore: currently there is a travel ban (blacklist) from as many as 33 countries (most of South America and Africa) with at least 15 delegates coming from those areas. Travelling from all other countries is subject to strict restrictions: i.e. testing (in country of origin within 3 days of arrival, plus mandatory tests in the UK on day 3 and 8 after arrival) and 10-day quarantine with friends OR in approved hotels that come at a high cost for travellers.
Vaccines are being rolled out effectively in the UK, expecting most of the population to have been vaccinated by May/June. But the situation is dire in most other countries.

All of the above shows that it is necessary to develop plans B and C (i.e. hybrid and/or virtual).

Should the in-person option no longer be viable, PR notes that the main issue to deal with will be the 19 time zones that delegates come from. PR suggests alternative format for online conference by splitting delegates by geographic regions based on time zones: three may suffice (i.e. Americas, Europe/Africa/Middle East, and Asia Pacific). In this case, though, it could not be considered an “Oxford” conference anymore. CSB observes that it could still be if the organization comes from Oxford. But PR remarks how a global/online option will have to be arranged regionally and he will need several members to help in the organization and in the actual running of each satellite event.

Should this option be pursued, each regional leg of the conference can be run live, but all sessions will be recorded and made available online for all other members to watch offline.

RF asks when a decision will be made in case the idea of keeping the conference in Oxford has to be dropped. PR reply he hopes to make a decision by around Easter.

ACTION POINT – PR to send update on alternative scenarios to Membership.

With regards to AI’s plan to organize an event for ECRs, PR suggests finding ways to link it somehow to the Annual Conference (although not necessarily on the same dates) so as to avoid “marginalizing” it as a minor event.
Any other business
There was no other business.

Date of next meeting: Monday 22 March 2021, 9 pm BST/UTC/GMT (consider DST; refer to shared DOC for each country’s time zone)