• WHY IS THERE AN ETHICS COMMITTEE?


    Opening statement by the Conference Chair

    The increasing concern about a possible disconnect between what we say (“Improving the world through chemistry and catalysis”) and what we do (the topics we research, but also how we organize the event in very practical terms), along with the need to consider major ongoing environmental issues, has led to the decision to have a dedicated “Ethics Committee” within the conference organization. This is the first time that an ICC conference has had such an ethics-focused committee. Ethics are the moral principles that control or influence behavior: what we consider right or wrong, in light of our values, and their relationship to what we do. The collision between the magnitude and depth of the possible scope of an ethics committee on one hand, and our collective inexperience on the other, will no doubt lead us to make some mistakes. Yet we believe that the method - a purposeful, explicit and transparent ethics-driven analysis of our acts and plans - has the potential to become a worthy compass; and should the direction indicated be somewhat off, we commit to do our best, while trusting that the journey, with all its unavoidable shortcomings, will help - in the longer run - to make our personal and collective contribution to “Improving the world through chemistry and catalysis” the best that it can be, in agreement with our values.  

    David Farrusseng (Conference Chair) and Alessandra Quadrelli (Ethics Committee Task Leader).


    Mission statement by the Ethics Committee
    Catalysis, with the overarching chemical transformations that it allows, has a role in access to energy, food, water, drugs and many other central nodes of our society, as summarized by the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. A core mission of this committee should therefore be the exclusive promotion of fields and topics within the ICC conference that are in direct alignment with serving society and the environment, within the boundaries of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  At the same time, each of these nodes implies fundamental ethical questions that supersede the capacity of this committee. We are unequipped to address them and even to understand them fully. Therefore, the core mission mentioned above will only be partly fulfilled.  We are currently reflecting on how to better accomplish this mission.

    Acknowledgement of “path dependency” biases
    While biases, and mostly the undesirable effects they promote (such as unfairness, for example), can hardly be avoided, not acknowledging them is a sure recipe for inflating their effects. This conference aims to improve the world while bridging the past and the future: “Roots and Wings for a better world”.  There is no need to invoke all the possible biases that could weaken this ambition; the “path dependency” bias suffices to teach us that our roots shape and bias the wings we can conceive. Our roots, the phenomenal catalytic systems developed over the past century, are deeply connected to epochal changes that have allowed and ushered in some of the crucial, life-improving, potentially life-saving but also polluting and energy-squandering aspects of the 20th century. How does this past bias the future that can be conceived in this conference? We acknowledge that the importance of this underlying question dampens our ethical reach, and we are currently investigating how to limit its effect.

    Scope of Ethics Committee activities
    In light of the limitations and biases outlined above, and in agreement with our ongoing quest to overcome them in the longer run, we will restrain our field of action for this committee to a much narrower and more manageable object: the conference. When we refer to the conference we are thinking of its community of stakeholders: participants, organizers and service personnel. The actions we have identified within this scope are detailed in the “What We Do” section.    
     

  •  WHO WE ARE


    Ethics Committee Members:
    • Dr. Clement Camp, CNRS-Lyon University, France
    • Prof. Ya-Huei (Cathy) Chin, University of Toronto, Canada
    • Dr. David Farrusseng, CNRS-Lyon University, France, 18th ICC Chairman
    • Prof. Nico Fischer,  University of Cape Town, South Africa
    • Dr. Alessandra Quadrelli, CNRS-Lyon University, France, Task leader
    • Dr. Haresh Manyar, Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom
    • Prof. Dmitry Yu. Murzin, Åbo Akademi University, Finland
    • Prof. Vasile I. Parvulescu,  University of Bucharest, Romania
    • Prof. Keiichi Tomishige, Tohoku University, Japan
    • Prof. Hilde Venvik,  NTNU - Norwegian University of Science And Technology, Norway
    • Prof. Malgorzata Witko, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland
     
    Applications are welcome from outside the discipline of chemical science
    The Conference Chair thanks the members of this committee, who are established researchers in the catalysis community coming from different institutions and backgrounds, for having accepted his invitation to join the committee. Because the sensitive topics that we will face have different meanings throughout the different components of our diverse international community, the presence of these members in our group is a very strong asset. The original invitation was sent mostly to members of IACS and other catalysis-related institutions.  Now we extend this invitation to interested individuals whose expertise is outside the chemical sciences in hopes that their viewpoints could enrich our work. Spontaneous applications are welcome. The Conference Chair and the Ethics Committee Task Leader will make a selection based on a review of these applications (criteria will be determined at a later date).  
     
  • WHAT WE DO


    As detailed above, we have chosen to restrict the scope of our Ethics Committee activities to the conference itself, namely its community of stakeholders: participants, organizers and service personnel. We therefore aim to make recommendations for an acceptable code of conduct:
    • For the decision-makers (e.g., selection committees, reviewers, etc.)
    • For the users (on-site participants and remote participants)
    • For the providers of goods and services (e.g., catering, logistics, etc.)
    For each item we will try to devise an appropriate set of recommendations – or enforce a code of conduct where deemed necessary – that ensures that our practices reflect our values toward each other, in particular:
    • Respect for each person with regard to values such as Fairness, as well as Inclusivity toward the actors within our community who have traditionally been unfairly marginalized
    • Transparency and Accountability 
      These are the topics that we have identified as being within our scope (click to open):
    • Recommendations regarding personal data collection
    • Attention to the CO2 footprint of the 18th ICC
    • Choice of service providers
    • Selection criteria for the content of the scientific program of the conference
    • On-site code of conduct
    You can follow our progress over time by consulting this Ethics Committee log

    Recommendations regarding personal data collection
    Why do we collect personal data
    In a spirit of self-improvement, and in order to enable the ICC to track its progress over time with regard to aspects that are deemed important (e.g., accessibility, bias toward segments of our community, CO2 footprint, etc.), it appears to be appropriate to collect data from participants and from submitting authors.
    How do we collect personal data?
    We have made a unanimous decision to collect information on a strictly voluntary basis.
    What personal data do we collect?
    The questions to be asked (e.g., age? gender? country? first-time presenter? job title, professional status? number of years of experience in research…?)  are currently under review.
    How will we use your personal data?
    The anonymized data will be publicly accessible here after the conference. It will be officially presented to the IACS board and transmitted to the next ICC chairmanship in order to contribute to the monitoring of progress, transparency and accountability.  

    Attention to the CO2 footprint of the 18th ICC 
    Our commitment to be sensitive to the issue of CO2 emissions also raises ethical questions. 
    Remote access to the conference
    Providing access to ICC content without creating associated CO2 emissions linked to transport appears to be a strong argument in favor of allowing remote access. (The digital footprint of the remote option has not been computed.) We also believe that providing remote access is a sensible option for preventing bias toward the members of our community who, for personal or professional reasons, have privileged access to travelling options.  
    Why have a large conference at all?
    One could raise the question of why there should be a very large scientific gathering at all. We believe that in-person exchanges within the community help forge bonds and collaborations and therefore improve the overall science that we collectively produce. We therefore believe that the existence of such a gathering - a relatively rare opportunity, which occurs every four years, is capable of attracting a very wide cross-section of the community, and is recognized as a “high point” for the catalysis community - is still very valuable. This is why we have opted for the possibility of remote participation without (yet) going for a fully hybrid solution. We understand that the participants, especially those who are particularly attentive to their own CO2 footprint, might be rather selective regarding the conferences that they attend. We hope that the quality of the interactions we will offer will be worth their time and the extra ICC-related CO2 emissions.
    Including valuable on-site experiences to make travelling more worthwhile
    For example:
    • by promoting  PL and KN speakers to interact with participants throughout the entire conference
    • by  including program events that are best appreciated on site (round tables, short symposia, lively and extended panel discussions, exhibition events,…)
    • ...

    Choice of service providers
    TBD

    Selection criteria for the content of the scientific program of the conference 
    The construction of the scientific program for the ICC is a complex endeavor. It ranges from the choice of plenary speakers and session topics to the selection of orals and the nomination of chairpersons - to cite just a few examples - and entails thousands of evaluations performed by hundreds of actors. Here we will share some recommendations in the aim of ensuring that the overall procedure reflects our values.   
    On avoiding biases
    In order to counter recognized sources of injustice, we recommend that each decision-maker be exposed to training on selection bias mechanisms.  The content proposed (e.g., video, text, etc.), along with the mechanism by which this exposure will be encouraged, monitored and enforced, is under review (e.g., pop-up text on biases before reviewing, explicit consent upon accepting to join the pool of referees?).
    Selection criteria
    The fairness of a selection procedure also relies on explicit criteria and processes known and agreed upon by the relevant bodies before the selection takes place. The following section contributes to these efforts in favor of transparency:
    For plenary lectures:
    The Steering Committee carries out the selection of PL, KN and Topics based on inputs from the IACS and the National Board. In March 2022, the Steering Committee recalled the ethical objectives to be remembered by IACS members when making nominations for lecturers and keynote speakers.  The text was the following: “We would like you to remember the values of Fairness & Inclusivity when making nominations. We invite you to submit several nominations in order to better reflect the strength of our diverse community.” At the time of the selection meeting, the Ethics Committee did not have material to recommend for the training of decision-makers regarding unconscious bias. The recommended selection criteria for plenary speakers were:
    • Significant contribution to their respective field.
    • Representative of our communities (topic, geography, gender).
    • Balanced selection between contributions that will mostly favor intergenerational transmission of experience with those that will showcase the emergence of new concepts and methods.
    • Prior PLs are not considered for PL. 
     
    On-site code of conduct
    TBD  

    Ethics Committee log
    We believe that openness and transparency can be constructive founding values for a community-serving scientific endeavor. They can also be useful tools for inviting feedback and improving our own behavior. In keeping with this philosophy, we have summarized below the activities of the Ethics Committee that we deem to be most relevant.  
     
      > June 23, 2022: First meeting of the Ethics Committee (add hyperlink to executive summary)
    > April 2022: The ICC website goes live with an “Ethics” tab. The content consists of five lines: “We are setting up an Ethics Committee to make sure that our practices reflect our values towards science and towards each other: fairness, respect of each person, inclusivity, transparency, accountability,… The objective of the Ethics Committee is to help the Steering Committee devise the best practices for the selection of speakers and reviewers, the allotment of student grants, and so on, and for the establishment of an on-site code of conduct, etc.”
    > March 2022: DF sends a letter inviting members of IACS to join. All positive feedback is accepted. Further individual invitation reminders are sent in an attempt to broaden the diversity of the committee (mostly in terms of age, gender and geographic origin).
    > March 2022: The Steering Committee recalls the ethical objectives to be remembered by IACS members when making nominations for lecturers and keynote speakers.  The text is the following: “We would like you to remember the values of Fairness & Inclusivity when making nominations.  We invite you to submit several nominations in order to better reflect the strength of our diverse community.”
    > July 2020: France proposal secures the nomination as organizer of the next edition of the ICC during the 17th edition in San Diego. The pitch included an idea promoted by the ICC chairmanship regarding the existence of an ethics committee.
       
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