1. Policy

ISHPSSB is committed to the ideals of diversity and inclusion and to creating an environment that facilitates an open intellectual exchange. ISHPSSB meetings are intended to foster the respectful exchange of ideas, provide participants the opportunity to present research findings and receive helpful feedback, establish and/or renew collaborations, and network with an international community of scholars interested in history, philosophy, and social studies of biology. The Society is dedicated to providing a safe, hospitable, and productive environment at its biennial meetings, off-year events, and in committee meetings that uphold these values. In compliance with Article XI of the By-laws, ISHPSSB expects that members and meeting participants be able to take part in Society activities without experiencing any form of harassment, bullying, discrimination, racism, incivility, or violence. The Society expects all members, meeting participants, and elected officers to treat others with respect and consideration. The same kind of respectful behavior is expected of members in all settings: formal and informal gatherings, such as banquets, restaurants, coffee shops, bars, outdoor spaces, or on public transportation, as well as during the course of the Society’s committee work and business operations.

Definitions and examples:

Harassment of others includes (but is not limited to): unwanted verbal attention; and unwanted touching, intimidation, stalking, and shaming. Harassment includes both sexual harassment (inappropriate or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature) and gender-based harassment (unwelcome conduct based on, or targeting, an individual's actual/assigned or perceived gender, including slurs, taunts, stereotypes, or name-calling; gender-motivated physical threats or attacks; behavior that demeans other persons by reason of their gender, gender identity, or expression). Harassment can also involve belittling an individual based on their race, socioeconomic status, religion, ethnicity, age, or disability. Bullying is a form of harassment manifested in verbal, social, or physical intimidation, often accompanied by abusive or offensive language and differential power relations, intended to influence how someone thinks, acts, or behaves.

Discrimination, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is “the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of ethnicity, age, sex, or disability”. Discrimination can also involve singling out or excluding persons based on their gender (gender identity or expression), or sexual orientation. In accordance with the Society’s bylaws, the Society prohibits discrimination against members in the context of nominations for office, participation in committee work, plenaries, sessions, Off-Year Workshops, and all other Society activities and business.

2. Publicizing the Policy

Informing Society members

The ISHPSSB Policy on Respective Behavior is posted on the Society website and meeting registration forms. Registration for membership or for a meeting is contingent on registrants agreeing to comply with the policy.

3. Procedures

a. Reporting abuses to the Ombuds Committee

The ISHPSSB Ombuds Committee consists of two Ombudspersons appointed by the Executive Committee with the assent of Council. The Ombudspersons are charged with receiving, hearing, and clarifying reports about potential abuse of or noncompliance with the Society’s Policy on Respectful Behavior. Ombudspersons will remain impartial, exercise empathy, and maintain strict confidentiality. At any point in the process, an Ombudsperson who has a conflict of interest with respect to a reported concern shall recuse themselves.

Individuals who believe they have experienced an abuse of the ISHPSSB Policy on Respectful Behavior and who wish to discuss their experience or file a report are encouraged to do so. Reports should be submitted to the ISHPSSB Ombuds Committee via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., providing details of the incident. If they prefer, an individual can approach an officer, who may contact the Ombuds Committee on their behalf. The Ombuds Committee will respond to the complainant as soon as possible.

If there is an immediate safety concern associated with the reported incident suggesting that others may be at imminent risk, the Ombudspersons will act accordingly to seek help, with or without the permission of the complainant.

A witness of behavior considered to be an abuse of or noncompliance with this policy can contact the Ombuds Committee to inform them of an incident. If deemed appropriate, the Ombudspersons can approach the targeted person and ask whether they wish to file a report.

The statute of limitations for filing a report is two years after the incident.

b. Gathering information

Once a report is received, the Ombuds Committee gathers information from the complainant(s). Once key details have been clarified, the Ombudspersons will contact the subject of the reported complaint via email.

The Ombudspersons will inform the subject of the reported complaint that a report has been filed. They will ask the person to respond to the claims if they wish. The Ombudspersons will document their explanation of the incident.

To resolve any contradictory information or fill in any missing details, the Ombudspersons may request additional information from both parties, as well as identify and interview witnesses who might offer additional information. If the complainant wishes to withdraw their report, or the Ombudspersons can bring the matter to a resolution satisfactory to both parties, the Ombudspersons submit a report of this outcome to the Society’s Secretary, who keeps the report on file. No further action will be taken.

c. Reporting incidents to the Council’s Respectful Behavior Committee

In all other cases, once the Ombudspersons have completed their report, the Ombuds Committee sends it to the Council’s Respectful Behavior Committee for deliberation.

The Council’s Respectful Behavior Committee consists of three members of Council appointed by the Executive Committee with consent of Council who serve during their terms of office. On behalf of the Council, the Respectful Behavior Committee is charged with adjudicating Ombuds Committee reports and determining whether a violation of the Respectful Behavior Policy occurred; issuing sanctions, if deemed appropriate, for a violation; submitting a report of the committee’s findings and determinations to the Secretary; and communicating the outcome to the Ombuds Committee, who will then inform the parties. The Respectful Behavior Committee will exercise impartiality. Any member of the Respectful Behavior Committee who has a conflict of interest will recuse themselves from adjudicating the case; in such a case, a new member will be appointed to the committee.

Possible outcomes of deliberations of the Council’s Respectful Behavior Committee include (but are not limited to):

  1. Informing the subject of the reported complaint that their behavior is judged to be an abuse of the Policy on Respectful Behavior, but no sanctions are warranted at the present time.
  2. Informing the subject of the reported complaint that their behavior was an abuse of the Policy on Respectful Behavior and warrants further action. Possible sanctions include:
    1. The individual will not be permitted to register for and attend the next ISHPSSB biennial meeting.
    2. The individual will not be permitted to participate in the next ISHPSSB Off- Year Workshop or other ISHPSSB activities.
    3. The individual will not be permitted to participate, as appropriate, on ISHPSSB committees or attend committee meetings.
    4. In the case of serious violations of the Society’s Policy on Respectful Behavior, the Society will revoke the individual’s membership; the revocation can be temporary or permanent.
    5. If the person is an officer or Council member of the Society, a petition to remove the person from office will be put before Council for a vote. Upon Council approval, the procedure for filling vacancies specified in Article 3, §§ 6-7, of the By-laws shall be followed.

As the Respectful Behavior Committee acts on behalf of Council, the committee’s determinations are binding. A report will be filed with the Society’s Secretary.

The subject of the reported complaint will have the right to appeal the decision of the Council’s Respectful Behavior Committee to the Council. The Council will convene an Ad-hoc Appeals Committee appointed by the Executive Committee with the consent of Council whose members are not on Council to review the case. The Ad-hoc Appeals Committee shall make an independent determination and submit a report of its findings to Council. The Council will vote to overturn, uphold, or modify the judgment of the Respectful Behavior Committee. The chair of the Appeals Committee will communicate the outcome to both parties. The outcome of an appeal is final and binding.