First Caucus Meeting: Minutes

Grad Students and Early Careerist Caucus

November 2, 2007



Dawn Digrius (Drew University) introduced herself and called the meeting to order at 12:02 p.m., and passed around a mailing list for those not already on the GECC listserve. Over the course of the meeting, approximately 40 people were present at one time or another.

Brief History

HSS President Joah Cadden organized a gathering of graduate students at the 2006 Annual Meeting in Vancouver to answer questions about the Society and its publications. Digrius had remembered that the Archaeology Society has a Graduate Student Caucus, and she and Jacqueline Wernimont (Brown University) volunteered to organize a similar Caucus of graduate students and early careerists for HSS.


Lynnette Regouby (University of Wisconsin) and Suzanne Fischer (University of Minnesota) have established a WordPress blog at, which will provide a central repository for resources and communication, and help to keep connected the many graduate students and early careerists not attending the annual meeting.

Caucus Structure and Procedures

Attendees discussed the need for an HSS caucus of this type, and its possible functions, including:

– helping us to network with those who have similar interests;
– connecting us with a few people before we first begin attending HSS meetings;
– offering a supportive platform for collaborative projects;
– providing a structure to sponsor sessions at HSS meetings especially for the needs of graduate students and early careerists; and
– sharing leads and advice on how to find grants and other funding, as well as other practical concerns like editing journals, opportunities for non-academic employment, etc.;

HSS President Cadden offered her advice on caucus structures and procedures, including:

– looking to SIGs, forums and other caucuses as potential models for GECC;
– following the model of similar groups in allowing members to self-identify; and
– presenting our mission statement and leadership structure to the HSS Executive Committee.

Further discussion concerned the nature and boundaries of our membership. It was asked whether we had a clear definition for “early career,” to which the answer was, “not yet”. Attendees urged that the criteria be kept as flexible as possible, based on the changing circumstances those in their early careers are likely to experience.

Nomination and Election of Officers

With the vicissitudes of early careers still in mind, attendees decided that it would be wise to have an alternate in addition to co-chairs. Together they will oversee the communications between the GECC and HSS and track the progress of delegated tasks. A communications coordinator position was also suggested, who would manage the Caucus’ mailing list, website and listserve. Lastly, an additional position was suggested to evaluate the progress of the Caucus.

Election results (all by acclimation) were:

Co-chairs and alternate:

Jackie Wernimont (Brown University)
Suzanne Fischer (University of Minnesota)
Dawn Digrius (Drew University)


Lynnette Regouby (University of Wisconsin)


Taika Dahlbom (University of Turku, Finland)

The officers intend to meet occasionally, perhaps through a web forum program, and disseminate their minutes to the membership of the caucus.

Caucus Objectives

There seems to be general support in the HSS for the purposes of the Caucus. In addition to the functions already noted above, attendees also brainstormed:

– starting by publicizing the existence of the Caucus, and getting a better sense of what people need;
– making our official status with HSS one of our priorities;
– emphasizing web-based resources and services, keeping in mind the large number of graduate students and early careerists unable to be at each Annual Meeting;
– making a priority of sharing mentorship and networking resources;
– exploring the possibility of podcasting or otherwise broadcasting short Caucus presentations from the Annual Meeting;
– using our resources to build diversity in the History of Science by reaching out especially to undergraduates; since they are often not able to attend the Annual Meeting, we can encourage their attendance and also communicate resources back home to them;
– discussing the necessity of fundraising, if we’re planning on sponsoring sessions; and
– continuing to look at the Women’s Caucus as a model to guide us in bringing in speakers, etc.

It was noted that Travel Grants to the Annual Meeting are intended only for graduate students who are presenting, and not all of it is generally being used, so more should apply for this assistance; money coming from the local level may be used to aid graduate students who are not presenting.

GECC Web Presence

There was a brief discussion about what sort of online resources were most urgently needed. Further conversation was tabled with the intent of a future online discussion.

NSF Grant Presentation: “Funding Opportunities for Historians of Science”

Fred Kronz, Director of the Science, Technology and Society (STS) Program at the National Science Foundation, offered a brief presentation on financial support available for History of Science research. He directed us to his department’s page on the NSF site:

Kronz reported that the NSF is now considering proposals that are a hybrid of previously-separate categories. STS currently has a budget of $8.5M, and is expected to continue growing at the rate of about 7% per year; we can expect the funding caps as they are currently listed to increase accordingly in the next funding cycle. As our advisors are often less informed about non-academic careers, Kronz urged us to look more closely at these opportunities as way to leverage insights from the History of Science world, and suggested that HSS consider inviting government representatives to give a presentation about non-academic careers. He urged us to contact one of the program officers at NSF; they’ll expect us to give them a project summary, but they can offer great advice on how to proceed with our application for funding.

Skipped Items

In the interest of time, we tabled in-depth discussion on the creation of SIGs, mentoring and outreach, and the development of first-year milestones.

Action Items

Roger Turner (University of Pennsylvania) successfully contacted editors of the publishing houses of Rutgers, MIT and Chicago to arrange a speaker for the next meeting.

The Caucus meeting was adjourned at approximately 1:30 p.m.