URISA’s New Event Code of Conduct

URISA issued its Call for Papers (CFP) for next year's GIS Pro event on Dec 10 (press release). For your calendar, submissions are due January 27 for the September 8 event in New Orleans. It looks like most other CFPs from the organization. But there is something new; something you will find only on the website, in the Notes section of the conference page.

If you click through to the Code it might look familiar; it's the same one I've seen at FOSS4G events before. As I noted in a recent podcast on the status of women in GIS, I think every event should include it. URISA didn't require attendees or presenters to read or abide by any such code last year. So I asked URISA about the change. Executive Director Wendy Nelson responded.

Directions Magazine (DM): Why has URISA instituted a Code of Conduct for the 2014 event? At whom is it addressed? Everyone? (presenters, attendees, press, exhibitors, etc.)? 

Wendy Nelson (WN): URISA instituted a Code of Conduct to reinforce our focus on sharing valuable ideas in a respectful atmosphere during our events. Indeed, all participants will be expected to read and abide by the Code of Conduct and we think that it will not only be a valuable addition to the conference experience overall but will also serve as a good reminder of expectations in all business settings. Can’t hurt to be reminded of these  things periodically especially with all of the instant communication methods available today. “Think before you speak” is still a good guideline.

We have also integrated a request for more detailed learning objectives to be specified as part of our abstract submission process.  Again, adding more specific take-home value to the content being shared by presenters.

DM: How did URISA make this change, that is, who explored the situation and came to the conclusion of adding the Code of Conduct? 

WN: There was an unfortunate incident during GIS-Pro 2013 in Providence when a last-minute lightning talk was added right before our Ignite session. The content presented did not live up to typical URISA standards and was a cause for embarrassment for many involved. Several members of the Conference Committee and I decided at that time that some more stringent requirements needed to be put into place, and formalized so that it wouldn’t happen again.

DM: How did URISA select this particular Code of Conduct? What is its source? (I’ve seen it before at FOSS4G events.)

WN: Actually, we started searching online for examples that other organizations promote for their events. We found numerous examples and I actually think you, Adena, forwarded me the FOSS4G code of conduct to take a look at.

DM: Will (or has) this Code of Conduct be added to registration for all URISA events going forward?

Yes it will. We started with GIS-Pro and will be adding it to our other events along the way, including workshops and webinars.

DM: Is there anything URISA wants to share about this matter?

WN: Back in 2003, after extensive work by URISA’s Certification Committee, the URISA Board of Directors’ approved a GIS Code of Ethics, a vital part of the GISP certification program, so it is clear that ethical and professional good behavior has always been important to URISA. 

Our goal is to provide resources and opportunities to support professional growth. Hope that many of your readers attend an in-person or virtual URISA event in 2014! 

Published Monday, January 6th, 2014

Written by Adena Schutzberg

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