by Richard K. Ashdowne (University of Oxford; Honorary Membership Secretary, PhilSoc)
In spring 2016 the Council of the Society ran an online survey to find out members’ views on matters to do with the Society’s current activities, and in particular its programme of meetings.
More than 200 members completed the survey, from a wide range of the Society’s very diverse membership, including new and student associate members and those who have been members of the society for many decades.
The chief results of the survey were that more than half of the respondents typically do not attend any meetings of the Society each year, while less than 10% of respondents said they typically manage to attend three or more meetings. Over a quarter of those who completed the survey said they had never attended a meeting of the Society.
The most frequently given reasons for being unable to attend meetings were the difficulty and/or cost of travel to meetings and the pressure of other work or family commitments. A number of other reasons were given by smaller numbers of respondents.
The Society very much understands that the investment of time and money for a member to attend a meeting in person is often considerable. For this reason we have now encouraged speakers to provide a brief abstract that will enable members to make a more informed decision about attending.
With a view to making its meetings more accessible to UK members living outside the southeast of England the Society is continuing to arrange at least one of its regular meetings each year outside of this area. Recent events of this kind have included the events in Newcastle and Leeds in 2016. The Society – via the Secretary – is keen to hear from members who would be willing to host such events in the future.
The survey asked whether respondents had viewed the videos of some of the Society’s joint events with the British Academy and whether members would watch recordings of other meetings in addition to or instead of attending. Since this possibility was generally welcomed by those who responded, the Society has now begun to experiment with making video recordings of some of its regular meetings and making these available via YouTube. It is hoped that members who are unable to attend meetings in person may find these of interest. We would be interested in any feedback on these videos in comments on this post.
Council keeps the arrangements for meetings under regular review and so we’d also be interested in any comments in general on the Society’s events via the comments on this post.