On behalf of the Board of Directors of CSA, here is an update on our next annual conference, which will be held in Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA, May 17-20th, 2017.
We are grateful to all in this community for your patience and support as we adapted our conference plans for 2017.
As you may recall, we had been working towards a conference in Raleigh, North Carolina (NC). In March, the state legislature in NC passed a law (HB2) that eliminated anti-discrimination protections for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, genderqueer, and intersex community, and legislated that in government buildings, individuals may only use restrooms and changing facilities that correspond to the sex on their birth certificates. This law condones behavior that is in direct opposition to our aspiration for an inclusive and open community and made our members feel unsafe and unwelcome.
The Board of Directors, in consultation with the Conference Program Committee and the Integrity, Diversity and Equity (IDE) Working Group and with input from across the CSA community, decided that we could not hold a conference in a place with laws that legalized discrimination. We also consulted with our local host institutions and members of the Local Organizing Committee in making this decision, and particularly want to recognize their courageous and honest participation in a decision with significant local and personal impact.
In accordance with the core values of openness, respect, and equity, we sought a new venue in a state with laws and policies that uphold safety, accessibility, and equity for the LGBTQ community. We’re pleased that Saint Paul, Minnesota – a state that itself instituted a NC travel ban in protest of HB2 – will be the 2017 home of the CSA Conference.
At the same time, we were mindful that even in a place with less discriminatory laws, injustice is still present. This was reinforced in the worst way by last week’s horrific killings, including of Philando Castile in Saint Paul. This tragedy, only the most recent of its kind across the United States, is an urgent reminder of persistent, systemic injustices that too often seem invisible to those people who are not their victims. None of us are excused from introspection and redress: this is yet another stark reminder that all of us are responsible for living up to our values.The CSA’s IDE Working Group and the CSA Board are united in the goal of making equity and justice core values of science, and especially citizen science. We will work hard to ensure that those values are prominent in CSA culture and at the 2017 conference. As the Association begins developing the 2017 conference program we will be reaching out to organizations that share those values in and beyond the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-Saint Paul. We welcome suggestions from the CSA membership for appropriate partnerships and activities to pursue. Together, we can build an organization that holds itself to the highest standards.
We will have more news to share over the next few weeks regarding conference plans. This will include information about how to engage with IDE work, announcements about activities organized by local partners from the Twin Cities, and dates for the Call for Proposals (anticipated in late August). We will also share more about our efforts to ensure this postponement can contribute to positive changes in North Carolina, in order for our conference to safely return there in 2019 as planned.
Please join us in Saint Paul, MN, May 17-20, 2017, to be part of conversations to create a field of citizen science and Citizen Science Association actively committed to equity and justice.