ECSA2020 Safe Space Policy

ECSA2020 Safe Space Policy

To ensure this conference is an enjoyable and productive event for all participants, we want it to become a safe space for everyone to come together and express themselves freely. We have therefore elaborated a Safe Space Policy that states behaviour which is considered harassment and not tolerated at the ECSA2020 conference.

*** You can find the safe space policy here. ***

If you experience or see something

If  a  participant  is  being  harassed,  notices  that  someone  else  is  being  harassed  or  has  any  other  concerns regarding harassment in relation to the ECSA2020 conference,  they  are  encouraged to:

  • Say something: If you are the target of, or witness unacceptable behavior, and do not have reason to fear for your or other’s safety, call out that behavior in a calm, matter of fact manner that does not escalate the problem. Sometimes people do not realize their impact on others and need help to learn better ways to interact.
  • Report it: There are different ways in which you can make a Safe Space Policy report at ECSA2020. We strongly recommend you act or report as soon as possible. For reports, please note the time, place and any other people present when the behavior occurred. ECSA will make every effort to protect the privacy of those involved. You can:
    • Report to the ECSA2020 Safe Space Support Team. Safe Space Support Team members are Claudia Göbel (EIE WG Co-Chair), Daniel Dörler (CS network Austria), Petra Benyei (EIE WG member), Simona Cerrato (Sissa team member), Soledad Luna (ECSA Board member), Tim Woods (ECSA HQ staff).
    • Fill out a reporting form online. Click here to get to the form. This form is checked frequently by ECSA2020 Safe Space Support Team members, and may be submitted anonymously.
    • Email the designated ECSA2020 Safe Space Support Team directly. A dedicated, confidential email [] will be checked frequently by Safe Space Support Team people who will respond to you as soon as your message is read. 
    • Never make an incident report to the Safe Space Support Team on social media of any kind.

What happens when you report an incident

Submitting a report via the form or the email address sends an alert email directly to all members of the Safe Space Support Team. Email will be checked at minimum twice daily during ECSA2020 by at least one member of the Team and at least once daily for the week after. Once your report is read, somebody from the Safe Space Support Team will contact you (if not submitted anonymously) to acknowledge receipt. The Team will then find a time to meet as soon as possible and decide on the response. 

Your report will be treated confidentially and not shared beyond the Safe Space Support Team, if you do not wish so. You will not be asked to confront anybody and we will inform you about the action taken (if not submitted anonymously).

What is the Safe Space Policy and why do we need it?

The Safe Space Policy for the ECSA2020 conference is a commitment by ECSA to take action against harassment during its 2020 international conference and all related activities, both online and offline. The policy states ECSA’s position - that harassment of any kind is not tolerated during the event - and lists behaviours that are considered as harassment. It also provides information on how to report harassment.

The policy aims to ensure that this conference is an enjoyable and productive event for all participants, where we can come together and express ourselves freely. We are all different and our differences are related to power - for instance the power we hold in our positions, which is distributed in uneven ways. This is why creating open, inclusive and safe spaces for exchange is dependent on some agreed basic practices. Awareness of the necessity of such practices is growing, which explains why the importance of codes of conducts and safe space policies is being acknowledged widely, for example in science, the museum sector, the tech industry, civil society and the United Nations

For the ECSA community, this is especially important for two reasons. First, citizen science is an interdisciplinary and international field in which people from many different backgrounds interact without a well-established set of common principles. Citizen science also brings us together in new ways, creating links between holders of different types of expertise and skills. 

At ECSA conferences especially, we often come together in less hierarchical and more informal ways than people usually experience at their workplace or in their home countries. While this is great in principle, it also entails new challenges. Hierarchies and dependencies still exist in this new joint space, and people do not come in with equal positions. This means they do not enjoy the same degree of freedom to express themselves, including the freedom to say “no” to unwanted behaviour. 

Sadly, harassment happens all the time and, sadly, also in our midst. People have felt unsafe and harassment has happened at past ECSA conferences. But without an explicit organisational stance against harassment and no infrastructure in place, reporting and responding to incidents in adequate ways was not possible. This is not acceptable, and we need to change it.

Second, citizen science is on the rise, in Europe and internationally. This is a great chance for opening up how science is done - and doing it in a more equitable way. Considering the structural inequities and racism operating in (citizen) science worldwide, there is a lot of work to do if we are serious about wider participation and more democratisation of research - so the opportunities are vast. This work starts with how we build our associations. 

This Safe Space Policy is far from perfect. Many aspects of what it is, and even more of what it is not, can and should be discussed. Let’s have these discussions: this is how we build our community. And let’s work with ECSA HQ to get the resources needed to address this major topic as a priority.

How this came about

The current version of the Safe Space Policy has been created as part of a series of measures for making the ECSA2020 conference more inclusive. Many people have contributed up to this point. This work was carried out on a voluntary basis by a subgroup of the Working Group on Empowerment, Inclusiveness and Equity in Citizen Science and Community-Based Research, jointly hosted by ECSA and the Living Knowledge Network. We were approached by the organisers of this year’s ECSA conference to work together on this and be part of the conference committee for this purpose. Members of the Safe Space Support Team will work together to implement the measures during the conference. The ECSA HQ team has been the supportive backbone of the initiative. 

This work builds concretely on codes of conduct, inclusiveness measures and resources from the Cos4Cloud project, CSA’s CoC and implementation measuresGathering of Open Science Hardware CoC, International Marine Conservation Congress CoC, Public Lab’s CoC, Geek Feminism Wiki and the Ada Initiative. It has been inspired by many more organisations that have started to position themselves for inclusiveness and justice, and are undertaking measures to change organisational culture, such disciplinary collectives like BARC, Hackdays, scientific societies and technology-focused conferences and collectives.