The non-commercial foundations of Inter-Disciplinary.Net’s legal constitution underpin and supplement two core philosophical principles which shape and direct the ethos of the network.
Principle 1: The Equality of all Delegates
This Principle determines the way in which we approach and deal with people and helps explain some of our key practices:
I. There is no distinction or ‘status’ divisions between people who are involved in an Inter-Disciplinary.Net project.
a) hence in all communications we deliberately address people on a first name basis, never on a formal or titular basis. Thus we do not use formal terms, for example, ‘Professor’, ‘Dr’. Our projects are a level playing field where people contribute and interact on an equal footing.
b) people are there because of what they have to say not ‘who’ they are. This is supported by the blind peer review process used to select delegates to a project. By the time the conference begins, every one is there purely on merit, never on status. It is a more personal and personable approach which actively enhances the quality of the conversations and helps with a more focussed engagement with the issues.
ii. The equality model sets the basis of the educational model we use. Normally (but not always) we reject the model of the keynote speaker and/or actively seek to prevent ‘parachute presenting’. Standard practice is to wait until all submissions for a project come in, and then, should one or two papers stand out as particular inter-disciplinary exemplars, they will be invited to form a two paper ‘focus panel’ where the delegates concerned are allowed extra time to develop and present their work in interaction with each other. This way we have the involvement of people who are interested and committed to the project from the outset.
iii. The equality model determines the way a project operates in practice – and with particular reference to time. The time limit set for presenters is rigorously enforced without exception. This is standard observation of basic courtesy: all presenters have 20 minutes – and no one should be permitted or has the right to use time that belongs to another presenter.
iv. The equality model governs the conference attendance policy. All Inter-Disciplinary.Net’s projects emphasise dialogue with the issues raised by the conference as a whole and engagement with the people attending the conference. The continual interaction between delegates for the duration of the conference and beyond is essential to the inter- and multi-disciplinary nature of the event. In order to foster and promote critical collegiality it is essential that delegates should be present for the duration of the conference so as to facilitate the exchange of perspectives for which the conference strives, and which any publication should clearly demonstrate. As a strongly held principle of personal and professional courtesy, this is non-negotiable and a delegate not planning to remain to the end of a meeting will have their registration withdrawn.
Principle 2: The Creation of Self-Sustaining Communities of Dialogue
This Principle underpins the core of Inter-Disciplinary.Net’s activities and associated practices. The only fiscal income we have is generated by the registration fee. We have no other sources of income; to date, we have sought no other forms of income. What we do must be self generating, and in turn, must prove itself to be self-sustaining.
I. All delegates must participate. There are no non-participating delegates. By participation we normally mean that all delegates actively contribute to the intellectual life of the project. Typically this is achieved by presenting a paper, giving a workshop, forming a panel discussion, or some other contributory activity. This means every one at the conference has an equal stake in the dialogues and discussions.
ii. All delegates must pay. There are no fee waivers, no student reductions. All delegates actively contribute to the fiscal viability of the project. We have over the past two years been able to reach a point whereby limited reductions can be offered to delegates attending from Eastern Europe and the developing countries. However, the principle remains: even if we could, there would be no situation whereby a complete waiver of fees would be granted. All who come participate; and all who participate contribute to the costs of staging the event.
iii. All surplus income is wholly and completely reinvested in the network. In practice it takes up to three years for a project to become fiscally self-sustaining. During that time it receives support from older projects until it reaches a point whereby it can contribute to supporting newer and younger projects. Any surplus from a project is automatically reinvested under the terms of the constitution into the network for it’s consolidation and growth.
iv. If we can’t pay for it, we shouldn’t be doing it. Self-sustaining models are a key lynch pin of our independence from external institutions, bodies and sources. It also provides the motivation for the integrity of what we do. This does not preclude the development of collaborative ventures with others who wish to volunteer funding to help the growth of particular projects. But at no point will an Inter-Disciplinary.Net project be reliant on external sources to the extent whereby if that external source is removed, the project either cannot continue or collapses. Dependency on external funding is neither a recognition of ‘merit’ nor a consequent ‘quality standard’.
v. The principle of self-sufficiency is built on courtesy, cooperation and commitment. These are essential in the way we deal with each other, with the people who attend our projects and in relation to any one who wishes to work with Inter-Disciplinary.Net.