PSA Annual Assembly 2016

A more engaged PSA

This year we held our first ever Annual Assembly at our Annual Conference in Brighton. This was an opportunity for members to feed into our work and drive the future of the Association.

Members were encouraged to submit questions, concerns and ideas online ahead of this unique open forum. This resulted in a lively discussion and some excellent suggestions being put forward. Questions and responses from our Chair, Matthew Flinders, can be found below.

Annual Assembly 2016 Questions and Answers

Question: I am a Specialist Group Convenor. I was not elected to this post (I was invited), and there is no fixed term to my post. In line with the opening up of the PSA, I would like to propose that all SG convenors are a) elected and b) serve fixed terms. In almost every other academic body I'm involved with this is the model. To me, this would bring SGs closer to their members, and give greater incentive for SG Convenors to be active during their tenure. It's also a more open and transparent way of working.

Answer: This is a good question and I have spoken to Cathy Gormley-Heenan about this. Essentially, it is up to each SG to decide on their own rules. In some cases we would not have convenors if term limits or elections were introduced because the groups are actually quite small. Other groups have regular elections and lots of turnover. The PSA has also been aware of the need for SGs to enjoy a high degree of flexibility and autonomy and so we have avoided stringent rules and requirements where possible. However, I will bring this up at the next SG Annual Meeting in December and float the idea of the PSA providing a clearer governance framework.


Question: Why is the PSA not doing more to support its temporary hourly paid staff members or members on zero hour contracts?

Answer: This is an area where the PSA is developing its focus and will continue to do so in the future. It will form a key element of the Strategic Plan that is currently being developed and the PSA is well aware of the need to protect and support those academics in precarious employment positions. 


Question: How can more girls be encouraged to study politics at both A level and undergraduate level? I am running a politics club in China and there is no gender divide. 

Answer: The PSA is developing and Equality and Diversity Strategy that will look down the educational pipeline to explore how a broader cross section of society can be attracted into the study of politics. In doing so we are working closely with our Teachers Section and our Diversity and Equality Sub-Committee. Our research shows that at A level and undergraduate level, there are no major issues when it comes to gender balance. The problems arise further down the educational pipeline.


Question: Can the PSA please consider a reduced annual membership fee for ECRs?

Answer: Yes. We are reviewing both membership rates and membership categories and so encouraging ECRs to join and remain as members is a core part of this plan.


Question: What is the formal status of the 'first ever Annual Assembly'? Does it have decision-making power? Where does it sit in the PSA's constitution? At most universities in recent years, proper accountable and democratic decision-making has been replaced by 'consultation'. I hope that the PSA is not moving in the same direction.

Answer: The Annual Assembly does not have a formal status within the constitution at the moment but this is something that future trustees might want to review. The Assembly has been created as a mechanism to increase the voice and role of members and if this proves successful the some formalisation may be warranted. 


Question: There are lots of practitioners that would like to attend the annual conference but they simply cannot afford the fee and have no professional budgets to draw upon? Can anything be done?

Answer: Yes. We are reviewing both membership rates and membership categories and so encouraging practitioners to join and remain as members is a core part of this plan. I would also add that thinking about retired practitioners is also important. 


Copies of all AGM 2016 papers are available to download below.