Since its earliest days, ScienceOnline has sought to gather, grow and support a community of diverse faces, experiences and voices who share a desire to celebrate science, improve our communication skills and collaborate for a better world.
Bora Zivkovic, a cofounder and member of the ScienceOnline board of directors, has been an integral and vital leader in this community. Recent events, though, have identified actions on Bora’s part that are not consistent with the ScienceOnline values he himself vigorously promoted. Bora has taken steps to address these issues, and we look forward to any further clarity and resolution he might offer.
Our lives are full of overlapping communities – personal and professional. While several of us on this Board are good friends with Bora and his family, we must not allow this to affect our responsibility to manage the ScienceOnline organization and uphold the community values that each of us is committed to protecting.
ScienceOnline has always promoted the values of inclusivity. This is a bedrock reason for the creation and existence of ScienceOnline. Inclusivity is infused in our mission statement, is among the community values that are posted on the home page of our website, and is protected in the policy that prohibits harassment at ScienceOnline events. That policy includes the following statement:
“[ScienceOnline is] dedicated to providing a safe, hospitable, and productive environment for everyone present, regardless of ethnicity, religion, disability, physical appearance or gender. It’s important to remember that a community where people feel uncomfortable or threatened is not a productive one. Accordingly, ScienceOnline prohibits intimidating, threatening, or harassing conduct during our conference. This policy applies to speakers, staff, volunteers, and attendees.”
We realized that the full statement was not easily accessible outside of an event, so we have now posted it on our main website here.
The ScienceOnline Board strives to hold ourselves to this same standard. As members of the Board, we are held to a code of conduct that also includes integrity and honesty. This is necessary for us to execute our roles of governance and to ensure the fulfillment of the organization’s mission.
Over the past days, we’ve been listening closely to the online discussion related to Bora’s admission, and we’ve noted many of your concerns and questions. We’ve also consulted with several members of the ScienceOnline community to more fully understand what expectations different parts of the community may have. Although the Board is ultimately fully responsible to ensure that the policies of ScienceOnline are upheld, we value the counsel this community provides.
We would like to detail the ways in which the Board of ScienceOnline is addressing this situation, your concerns, and our obligations.
- Bora Zivkovic has voluntarily resigned from the ScienceOnline Board of Directors. The Board is reviewing Bora’s future role in the organization.
- The ScienceOnline Together 2014 program selection process has been led by Karyn Traphagen (in her role as Executive Director). Karyn and Bora have worked together on the preliminary decisions, but final decisions are still pending. Bora will not be involved with the final decisions for the programming. Karyn will continue to work with a small panel to ensure diversity of topics and moderators. We thank you for your patience as circumstances require time to review everything again before we publish the program publicly and open registration. We hope to do this by the end of October and will provide advance notice to the community.
- This is an important issue for our community. Therefore, Karyn is committed to creating an opportunity for the community to discuss these broader issues of harassment, online responses, and community values at the ScienceOnline Together 2014 event next February. The session/format for this discussion is to be determined. Karyn welcomes your ideas on constructive ways to approach these issues. Please email her.
- We are adding to the Board. On September 1, 2013, Scott Rosenberg joined the board for a three-year term (notice was forthcoming). We are seeking, and expect to seat, additional board members this year. In addition, we will develop a community advisory committee with members from the ScienceOnline community.
Co-founder and Chairman of the Board
Co-founder, Board Director, and Executive Director