Feminist Theory and Gender Studies

A blog to facilitate the communication of the Feminist Theory and Gender Studies Section (FTGSS) of the International Studies Association (ISA) concerning their research, activities, conferences, and thoughts.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Environmental Committee: Please comment on our draft proposals!

The FTGS environmental committee is working with the Environmental Studies Section (ESS) to develop proposals promoting more environmentally-friendly conferencing both for the sections and ISA as a whole. As part of this, we have drafted four sets of proposals:

1) a statement of principle supporting environmentally-friendly conferencing for FTGS to consider adopting as a section,
2) a statement of principle supporting environmentally-friendly conferencing for ISA to consider adopting as a whole,
3) a list of practical steps supporting environmentally-friendly conferencing for FTGS to consider adopting in whole or in part, and
4) a list of practical steps supporting environmentally-friendly conferencing for ISA to consider adopting in whole or in part

This is where we need your help! Please review the following draft proposals and then give us your feedback. We want to hear your suggestions and ideas and we value your contribution!

To ensure that we can send our proposals to the ISA Governing Council this year for incorporation in ISA’s 2009 annual conference, we ask you to submit all comments by September 15th 2008. Please feel free to either use the “comments” option on the blog, or contact environmental committee members directly.

Thanks for getting involved!

FTGS Environmental Committee members:
Carrie Currier: C.Currier@tcu.edu
Abigail E. Ruane: abigailr@usc.edu
Heather Turcotte: hmturcotte@juno.com
Jessica Urban: jlu5@humboldt.edu


I. Statement of Principle: For FTGS to consider adopting as a section

Propose that FTGS as a section adopt a general statement supporting environmentally-friendly conferencing (we could put this on the website / blog). E.g.,

"As feminists, we are committed to targeting all kinds of relationships of dominance and promoting in their stead relationships of mutual benefit and empowerment. Because of this, we support environmentally responsible conferencing as an effort to reduce the exploitation of our natural resources and promote a more sustainable basis for scholarly collaboration."

II. Statement of Principle: For ISA to consider adopting as a whole

Propose that ISA adopt a general statement supporting environmentally-friendly conferencing.

E.g., (adapted from BlueGreen Meetings: http://www.bluegreenmeetings.org/HostsAndPlanners/10EasyTips.htm):
The International Studies Association is committed to minimizing the environmental impact of its annual conference (“the event”) through:
1. Decreasing the amount of solid waste produced by the event;
2. Reducing energy and water consumption at the event;
3. Minimizing or off-setting harmful emissions resulting from vehicular transportation and energy consumption associated with the event;
4. Disposing of solid and liquid waste in an environmentally responsible manner; and
5. Eliminating the use of harmful chemicals at or for the event.

III. Practical Steps: For FTGS to consider

Propose that FTGS support efforts by other sections to promote environmentally responsible conferencing. (This will increase impact and reduce inefficiency in overlapping efforts.)


1. Support the Environmental Studies Section in their proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the conference when they submit it to ISA (under consideration at their section’s 2008 business meeting), or other proposals.

2. Work with ESS at upcoming ISA and revisit our document development after that point.

Note: Heather Turcotte met with 2007-2008 ES Chair Elizabeth DeSombre (edesombr@wellesley.edu) on Wednesday, 3/26/08, to discuss building a more “green” ISA. Beth DeSombre is going to be the 2010 ISA Program chair and suggested the two sections work together to develop a “pilot project” of proposals to initiate at the 2009 conference in New York and develop for the 2010 conference in New Orleans. Ideally, both philosophy and practical options as currently drafted would be elaborated in more detail based on FTGS and ESS member input. Some points to focus on include:
a. Carbon off-set emission option for the conference- Beth is looking into this through the model of APSA
b. Encouragement of University reimbursements to people who choose off-set costs
c. More public recycling options at conference
d. Encouraging ISA to choose conference sites that support green practices

IV. Practical Steps: For ISA to consider

Propose that ISA make concrete steps toward becoming more environmentally responsible (for potential steps see BlueGreen’s “Environmentally Sustainable Conferences” or their website at: http://www.bluegreenmeetings.org/index.htm). We particularly support the following steps:

1. Teleconference whenever possible
a. If possible, have pre-ISA leadership meetings via teleconferencing to reduce air travel & associated environmental costs
b. Make sure that funds are allocated so that this does not disenfranchise people with less funding / access (especially non-Westerners and women)

2. Ask conference centers that are being considered for future ISA conferences what their environmental plan is. If all else is equal, go with the conference site with the better environmental plan. (This will encourage conference venues to HAVE environmental plans.) Environmental plans should address:
a. Location of conference: How far will the average person have to travel? (Shorter is better for conservation.)
b. Access to conference center: How far will the average person have to travel once at the conference? (Shorter is better.) (Also need to think about what obstacles people other than the "average person" who are more likely to be disenfranchised have to deal with here.)
c. How efficiently will resources be used? Are the conference center, associated hotels, and major contractors (e.g., food service), “green”? E.g.:
i. water use: high/low flush toilets, fountains outside, landscaping use
ii. energy systems: heating / air conditioning efficiency, lighting
iii. waste materials: recycling (how much trash would an ISA conference produce?)

3. Reduce conference waste, wherever the conference is held
a. Make the conference program primarily electronic. E.g.,:
i. Amend panel submission form so that, upon registration, people can choose not to receive a hard copy of the conference program
ii. Create a few computer stations (not email stations?) for people to recheck panel locations
iii. Print a daily list of panels (e.g., on supersized posterboard)
b. Eliminate or minimize use of conference bags and other conference misc. E.g.,:
i. Amend panel submission form so that, upon registration, people can choose not to receive a conference bag / other misc.
c. Print programs on recycled paper
d. Create an FTGS/ISA coffee mug to reduce waste from paper cups (can be used for advertising). (Need to solicit cup art and funding.)
e. Require recycling areas (e.g., for paper, newspaper, conference programs, cans)

4. Add a fee which can be used to purchase “carbon offsets”
e.g., “green tags” (spending money to make up for the environmental impact of the conference – either to make it a net zero impact or a lower level of impact that it otherwise would have been)