6 September 2003 Comments and replies by Armin Schmidt
The Conference Secretary and Conference Vice-Secretary are only elected for one year but it would seem appropriate for them to serve two years if conferences are held bi-annually.
All officers are elected for only one year. This is to ensure the accountability of the Management Committee to the membership, especially related to the handling of the budget. As stated in 5.2 all officers can serve up to three years in a row. It would seem highly productive that Conference (Vice-)Secretaries serve for two years and this will be suggested to the membership. However, if the membership feels after a year that things went wrong they have the opportunity for re-election.
Shall the meetings of the Management Committee be paid for by the society?
Although the constitution makes provision for ‘reasonable out-of-pocket expenses’ for the Management Committee, it would be difficult to justify the spending of membership fees on the international travel of the management committee.
Should the membership fee not be at a higher level (e.g. £20) to start with?
Probably not. Although the Society is certainly a very good thing in its own right, most people will join because they can see a benefit for themselves. As long as there is no tangible output, like a membership journal, people may think twice as to whether to join. However, having a strong membership base, including East European colleagues, is very important for any future negotiations with other institutions and publishing companies. At the moment I only envisage a twice-yearly newsletter (maybe with brief paragraphs of work in progress, new ideas, completed PhDs etc.) which will require limited production and distribution costs. As the membership fees shall not be used to fund international travel of the Management Committee (see above) a small membership fee is appropriate at this stage and can be revised as the activities of the Society grow.
Should there be a ‘Student membership’ class?
Students should be Ordinary Individual Members with all rights and benefits. However, once the membership fee rises above a certain level, there should certainly be a reduced fee for students. The Constitution only defines the legal classes of members and their rights. The level of subscription fees will have to be decided in the Annual General Meetings.
Should the constitution specify where the society is based?
As far as I understand the British legal system, it is possible in Britain to establish a so-called “Association” (which can have any name, e.g. Society) just as a loose collection of people. It does not exist as a legal entity but just as a collection of individuals. All that is needed to give the minimum of legal protection is a Constitution.
In this respect, the loose association of members doesn’t have to be registered at a certain location.
However, to gain a bit more legal protection and especially some tax benefits, the association can apply to become a “registered charity”. In Britain this can be done in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland (with slightly different procedures) and it seems to be sufficient that one of the key officers of the Management Committee is resident there. I would therefore envisage that the Society, once it is established, applies for such charitable status and then becomes registered, maybe in England. This, however doesn’t have to be written into the constitution, and in fact I would want the constitution to be as open as possible about the base of the Society.
If the Society is registered in England, does it mean that it needs to have its offices in England?
There will not be such thing as an “office”, since the association is simply the sum of all its members with some being appointed as officers into the Executive Committee. Hence the place of registration is not so crucial.
It all boils down to the British system being very flexible for this kind of association by not offering much legal protection. For example, all members of the Management Committee are personally liable for any debts of the society. That’s why in addition to the Treasurer, an Auditor has to be appointed from the membership to check carefully the finances.
What about the links with other organisations, like the already existing Japanese version of the Society?
I can see three different models for the collaboration with the existing Japanese Society.
- The Japanese Society being a “national chapter” of the International Society.
- An affiliation where the members of the Japanese Society automatically become members of the International Society.
- An association where close links between the two Societies are kept.
My views on these options are as follows:
- I don’t think this is feasible as the Japanese Society is already well established and has its own rules and regulations, which probably fit Japan very well. This would seem to be a very restrictive tie.
- With the current small membership fee joint membership wouldn’t be a problem but if we go to a membership journal and raise the fee (e.g. to about £40) this will become an issue. Also, increasing the membership base with people who may not necessarily be able to come to Annual General Meetings will increase the problems of reaching a quorum.
- This leaves an association where membership of the two Societies is kept separate (i.e. people would have to join both) but very close links between them are kept. One could even appoint a “Liaison Officer” into the Management Committee. This is what I had in mind when drafting Objective 2g.
Regarding Objective f: shouldn’t we expand it as to aim for standardisation of research? For instance publish guidelines for archaeologists, which would specify the technical details of what they can expect from geophysical work (e.g. spatial resolution)
This is an interesting point. Although I am much in favour of such international guidelines I know for a fact that there will be no easy way to agree on them, as was for example demonstrated by the Round Table Discussion in Vienna 2001. I think the Society should be trying to develop such guidelines but I would be very reluctant to include them explicitly in the constitution as this might become a stumbling point. For example, somebody might accuse the Society of still not having achieved its aim of setting such guidelines. I think this activity is covered implicitly under objectives a, d and especially f and I would not include more explicit reference to it.
It needs to be clear that membership doesn’t imply any qualifications – i.e. the Society won’t be vetting applications.
This is an important point. It has to be clear to the outside world that just because somebody is a member of ISAP (s)he doesn’t have to have any further insight into archaeological prospection. Anyone interested in watching ‘Time Team’ may become a member! The question therefore is on what grounds (‘just cause’) membership might potentially be refused (3.1). I don’t think this needs to be spelt out in the Constitution but is worth thinking about.
Related to this is the question as to how the Society may offer advice (Object f) if its members don’t have to have some qualification. My answer would be a pragmatic one: it is more than likely that the majority of members, who are going to vote and elect the Management Committee, will be qualified. So maybe only a potential but unlikely problem?
One British Colleague’s Thoughts
It is a very good idea for several reasons not least the fact that internationally archaeological geophysics (AG) is a fragmented field at present and suffers as a result. And yet AG has matured greatly in recent years; an international society would be a recognition of that maturity. At the same time, AG as a subject needs more coherence. If aerial photography can ‘host’ a society to further its aims, then AG certainly can.
My only concern is that an International Society may only succeed when there is strong national support; otherwise the danger is that the International Society is nebulous/vague and self-serving for those who are on the Management Committee. Now, for the UK there is no problem in this respect as there are many active groups, although I still think it would be useful to have a national group as such in the UK. But I doubt the British situation is repeated elsewhere in Europe but I may be wrong.
What the International Society could do well is try to coordinate the meetings/conferences – at the moment it is a free for all, with events popping up all over the place.