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Annual Meeting Philosophy

Annual Meeting Philosophy

The Society for Freshwater Science (SFS) Annual Meeting provides a platform for scientists and practitioners to exchange freshwater science ideas and promote further understanding of freshwater ecosystems and ecosystems at the interface of aquatic and terrestrial habitats. We value diverse contributions to science, including various scientific disciplines, traditional ecological knowledge, community outreach, environmental justice, policy, education, community science, and other disciplines that broaden participation in freshwater science and effectiveness of conservation. SFS meetings are open to anyone interested in freshwater sciences, and we are committed to SFS meetings that broaden participation in freshwater science and management. Equitable access, sustainability, and inclusive practices underpin our vision for meetings that engage our community around novel science, conservation, and social justice.

To articulate our vision for SFS Annual Meetings, we offer eight guiding principles, listed in no particular order, along with examples of specific actions that could help meet those goals. The actions are not intended to be exhaustive, but rather to provide examples of actions to implement as appropriate and feasible each year. Following each meeting, the Annual Meeting committee and Board of Directors will reflect on how the guiding principles were addressed, and the findings will be used to adaptively plan for future meetings. 

In SFS Annual Meetings, we aim to….

Share and advance freshwater science and its applications

  • provide a platform to share new scientific knowledge in diverse ways through presentations, discussion panels, workshops
  • host leaders in the field of freshwater science who highlight new directions and frontiers of the field
  • integrate vendors and partners who provide novel tools and technologies
  • introduce students and others to basic tenets of freshwater science through workshops, field trips, and special sessions 

Encourage diverse representation of meeting attendees across various spectra (e.g., race, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, physical or mental difference, religion, age, national origin, professional affiliation, species/habitats/area of study)

  • include sessions for policy, public, education, and other disciplines
  • provide professional development workshops for students and early career professionals
  • offer virtual/hybrid options for meetings and virtual-only meetings
  • offer meetings in various countries to encourage more international participation
  • offer joint meetings with other societies to share knowledge across disciplines

Actively promote equity and inclusivity, such that meetings are welcoming to all and provide a safe space for all attendees 

  • include a welcome and orientation before or at the beginning of each meeting and pair new meeting participants with mentors
  • ensure meeting spaces are physically accessible
  • provide opportunities for those without financial means to attend, and not just virtually
  • provide low-cost housing options and ability for people to “pair up” 
  • select venues that make it cheaper (access to international airports)
  • provide childcare options
  • provide facilities for breastfeeding mothers and parents of young children
  • provide gender-neutral bathrooms
  • offer hybrid/virtual options
  • offer closed captioning and language translation
  • distribute SFS Annual Meeting Code of Conduct and enforce consequences for unacceptable behavior
  • develop a best practices guide and toolkit for special session chairs to ensure effective, equitable, and inclusive special session organization and implementation

Provide access to meetings and meeting content to encourage participation regardless of geographical locations and resources

  • provide virtual access to scientific presentations 
  • provide free public access to certain content (e.g., plenary sessions)
  • move meetings to different locations to facilitate in-person attendance by many
  • offer travel grants, especially to those traveling internationally and those with limited funding
  • hold in-person meetings close to big airports
  • provide financial support to those in need (particularly students, early-career scientists, international scientists, faculty at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUI))

Be financially responsible, both as a society and for individual attendees

  • strive to make meetings as affordable as possible, based on: least expensive conference venues, access to large airports, and/or low-cost housing options
  • obtain insurance
  • budget with a contingency
  • offer low-cost registration options

Be ecologically responsible, seeking to minimize impacts on the environment

  • provide opportunities to reduce or offset carbon footprint
  • provide funds to the city where the conference is held to forward conservation efforts including reducing the carbon footprint (see #7)
  • minimize waste: printed materials, food
  • select fewer meat options in catered meals
  • ensure the conference center embraces recycling and reuse
  • offer regular virtual meetings
  • offer regional meeting options through chapters

Be socially responsible, ensuring that companies that we provide business to align with our core values

  • seek minority-owned businesses, corporate responsibility
  • ensure conference location and associated hotels align with core values
  • limit vendors to those who align with core values     

Engage the local community, leaving the conference city better than when we arrived

  • support minority-owned and locally-owned businesses     
  • provide opportunities for local educators and the public to engage through professional workshops
  • engage with non-profit groups and agencies involved in freshwater ecosystem management and stewardship (e.g., conduct local stream clean ups)
  • offer service learning workshop opportunities partnering with local and regional equity, science, and conservation organizations     

Approved by SFS Board of Directors, 15 May 2022