Dear PSA Members,
I am writing as Past President to report on what PSA has accomplished over the last two years. Let me begin by congratulating our new President, Sandy Mitchell, new Vice President/President-elect, Alison Wylie, and incoming Governing Board members Megan Delehanty and Edouard Machery.
There have been two fronts of change for the PSA over the past couple of years. First, we have established PSA’s own central office, which is located at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and is led by our first Executive Director, Jessica Pfeifer. This change has enabled us to do much more with our limited financial resources and to focus administrative services more closely on the needs and aspirations of PSA members. I have already written to members about the advantages of setting up our own central office [President’s Letter 2016-09-22]. The second front of change involves numerous developments aimed at opening up the PSA. These developments impact governance and operations, inclusiveness, intellectual exchanges, public engagement, and the international character of our association.
PSA is making its governance and operations more transparent by posting information on our new website. The Governing Board decided to post all passed motions starting with motions passed after January 1, 2015. We are working backwards on these posting and the most recent passed motions are already posted [Motions Passed by Governing Board]. We are making the operations of PSA more transparent by listing all PSA committees on a single webpage with links to pages that describe the charges of committees, their current members, and how members are chosen. The committee webpage also includes buttons for members who would like to volunteer to help a committee with its work, to put their names forward to serve on a committee, or to suggest names of other PSA members who they think could help with a committee’s work. We also welcome members to forward ideas to committee chairs. Our aim is to open things up so it is easy for members to learn what PSA does, how PSA does it, and how each of us can contribute to PSA’s efforts to advance our profession. Please visit our committee page to learn about the operations of PSA and how you might get more involved [PSA Committees].
PSA is opening up its intellectual venues as well.  And we are doing so without compromising what PSA has traditionally done so well: advancing excellence in research through our highly selective main conference program (colloquia and symposia) and our flagship journal, Philosophy of Science, which consistently meets the highest standards of scholarship in our field. We started broadening our conference venues in 2014 by inviting cognate societies to organize sessions independently of our regular program committee. We built on these efforts for our 2016 Meeting by beginning our conference half a day earlier and scheduling cognate society sessions on the Thursday morning of our conference. Attendance at cognate sessions increased significantly, and the sessions helped diversify our conference program and brought more philosophers and scientists to our biennial meeting.

We expanded our conference offerings in 2016 by organizing our first “Poster Forum”. This forum created a new intellectual space for kinds of intellectual exchange that don’t occur during our formal colloquia and symposia sessions. 79 posters were presented by 118 members (some posters were multi-authored). We estimate the size of their audience to have been about 350 people! Slightly more than half of poster presenters were senior, mid-level, and junior professors as well as recent PhDs (about equally distributed among these four groups). Fewer than half of poster presenters were graduate students. The Poster Forum offered members opportunities to engage with one another in small groups, which made the event intellectually welcoming for many PSA members, especially new members, members who are not part of a network (e.g. colleagues from under-represented countries and independent scholars), and members who simply might not be comfortable speaking in rushed and large Q&A periods. It also provided the setting for discussing a broader swath of professional interests, including teaching, public engagement, and early stage research as well as the kind of later stage research represented in our traditional program of colloquia and symposia.
The lively Poster Forum increased the number of PSA members on the official program by 99 (19 poster presenters also presented papers on the main program). Many of these nearly 100 individuals were eligible for financial support from their home institutions, from NSF, and from PSA travel grants because their names were listed on the official program. The outstanding success of the Poster Forum revealed that PSA members are hungry for intellectual engagement on a personal level and on a broad range of research and professional interests. I would like to acknowledge the excellent work of the Poster Forum Chair, Alan Love, and the Poster Forum Committee [Poster Forum Committee Members]. Alan wrote detailed instructions and helpful guidelines for both constructing and presenting posters [Poster Instructions]. Committee members contacted a number of individuals in an effort to ensure a good number and diversity of poster submissions, and they refereed the submissions. The LPS department at UC Irvine provided very generous financial support. PSA has demonstrated the potential for poster events at philosophy conferences and created a new model of how to organize and conduct poster-based forums. PSA is leading the way.

PSA is also opening up to the public. Sandy Mitchell initiated and worked with Quayshawn Spencer, Michael Weisberg, and Jessica Pfeifer to organize PSA’s first Public Forum, which was held at the 2016 Meeting. They chose to use the intriguing question “How Should Race Be Used in Medicine?” as the Forum’s theme. The event attracted a large audience including a number of students and their teachers from the Atlanta area. It was, by far, the most diverse audience I have ever seen at a philosophy event. The success of the Public Forum demonstrated that philosophers of science can engage the public. This success encourages PSA members to think about how we can engage the public in our home communities. It has also inspired the PSA Governing Board to start making ambitious plans for public engagement at our next biennial meeting.
PSA has been working to make our conference more welcoming and inclusive. We continued and improved upon initiatives that were pioneered at our 2014 meeting including special interest lunches and a welcoming reception for graduate students, early career scholars, and new conference attendees. This year, we started providing dependent care subsidies and on-site childcare. Many members expressed strong support for our on-site childcare program even though they did not themselves bring children. They value our efforts to change the culture of our meeting so that participants will feel more comfortable attending with children. I would like to thank Roberta Millstein and Julia Bursten, co-chairs of the Women’s Caucus, for providing support and advice as we set up the parameters of these two new programs. The Women’s Caucus has helped lead the way as we have worked to make PSA Meetings more welcoming for a greater diversity of members and potential members.
PSA is an international association, and we have made significant efforts to open things up for members who are not based in North America. Holding meetings in North America makes travel difficult for many of us. Last year, we started a program to subsidize travel costs of graduate students and recent PhDs who are not based in the United States and are not U.S. citizens.  26 graduate students and recent PhDs from outside the U.S. were awarded PSA Travel Grants to support their travel to PSA2016. In addition, PSA has worked to make our committees more international. The 2016 Program Chair, Wendy Parker, is based in the U.K., and she selected the most internationally diverse program committee ever [2016 Program Committee]. In addition, the Nominating committee is chaired by Mathias Frisch (Leibniz Universität Hannover) [Nominating Committee]. These volunteers are helping us advance philosophy of science internationally and serve the professional interests of members throughout the world.
A new challenge facing philosophers of science is to find open access venues for publishing books.  Scholars funded by the European Union and the European Research Council (and related organizations) are now required to publish all written outputs from their projects, both articles and monographs, in an open access format. This is also required of many funding bodies in the UK and Australia. PSA has started exploring the possibility of creating an open access monograph series that would be run in a fashion parallel to that of our journal [Committee on Open Access Monograph Publishing]. Our aim is to see whether we can create a new model of open access monograph publishing that can ensure excellence of content and quality of production values while not charging fees to authors. Research universities now spend considerable funds to purchase books. Would they be willing to shift some of these resources towards supporting open access publishing? Many librarians at research universities say they should. PSA has been investigating this question, and our preliminary results are encouraging.
Many efforts to open up our association require financial resources. We have freed up considerable resources by running our own administrative operations through our new central office. PSA members have also sought donations from their home institutions. A number of philosophy departments, centers, and institutes significantly increased their donations or made donations for the first time. The LPS Department at UC Irvine sponsored the Poster Forum. The Center for Philosophy of Science (Pittsburgh) sponsored the Welcoming Reception for Graduate Students, Early Career Scholars, and New Conference Attendees. The Department of Philosophy at the University of Calgary sponsored the Women’s Caucus Breakfast.  Sandra Mitchell solicited funds from a number of units for the Public Forum, which was sponsored by the Patrick Suppes Center for the History and Philosophy of Science at Stanford University, the University of Maryland Baltimore County, the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science, the Egenis Center at the University of Exeter, the History and Philosophy of Science Department at the University of Pittsburgh, the Rotman Institute at the University of Western Ontario, and the departments of philosophy at UC Davis, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Waterloo. I would like to acknowledge and thank the PSA members who sought funding from their home institutions as well as those who made individual contributions to fund PSA priorities.
PSA is a vibrant, innovative, and progressive professional association. Serving as President has been very rewarding. I would like to close by expressing my gratitude to those with whom I have worked. First, I would like to acknowledge the hard work and difficult decisions made by the Governing Board over the past two years. They included Rachel Ankeny, Anjan Chakravartty, Peter Godfrey-Smith, Michela Massimi, Sandra Mitchell, Wendy Parker, Alan Richardson, Laura Ruetsche, Janet Stemwedel, Michael Weisberg, and Christian Wüthrich. Together, we charted the unknown territory of establishing a central office and opening up our association to embrace change. I would like to acknowledge that PSA was set in motion by my predecessors, Jim Woodward and Helen Longino, who recognized operations were not sustainable and addressed contractual issues with the University of Chicago Press. Helen and I worked closely together for the past four years, and I relied on her wise counsel as well as Sandy Mitchell’s during the past two years. I would also like to thank Wendy Parker who organized a terrific program for the 2016 conference and Jeff Barrett for continuing to do his fine work as chief editor of Philosophy of Science. As Jeff says, the volunteer work of the Associate Editors and referees is truly incredible. The same should be said of the members of the conference program committee and poster committee and the many members who have worked on PSA committees, summited papers to our journal and conference, organized and participated in symposia, and submitted posters. We are a vibrant, intellectually driven, and supportive community. Of course the individual who is owed the greatest thanks, not just by me, but by all of us, is Jessica Pfeifer. Without her truly extraordinary dedication, none of the advances described here would have been possible.
Ken Waters
C Kenneth Waters
Past President, Philosophy of Science Association
Canada Research Chair in Logic and Philosophy of Science
University of Calgary
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