Constitution of the European Society for Environmental History (ESEH)
Approved by the fifth Ordinary General Meeting of the European Society for Environmental History, held on Thursday, August 6th 2009, in SAS Radisson Falconer Centre, Frederiksberg, Denmark. Download a PDF copy.
1. Definitions and Interpretation
1.1 The “European Society for Environmental History”, named ESEH hereafter, is a charitable registered society domiciled in Duesseldorf Germany. The business year is the calendar year. After official registration the ESEH is given the title “e. V.” (eingetragener Verein / registered society).
1.2 All legal and financial documents must be kept in German and English. The working language of the Society is English. Additional translation into other languages is permitted and encouraged. To describe the functions of officials, this constitution uses the grammatical masculine only for the sake of readability, in reality persons of their respective gender are meant.
2.1 The ESEH has as its objective the development of environmental history and the presentation and dissemination of its findings in international research, teaching and wider society.
In order to achieve its objective, the ESEH aims to:
• encourage the study of environmental history in Europe and improve public access to current research, in particular by providing translations and directories of publications;
• encourage and promote the study of European environmental history in a comparative perspective or in the context of larger projects;
• foster communication among environmental historians across Europe, and with colleagues elsewhere, especially through conferences, publications and internet-services;
• promote the further institutional development of environmental history within the educational system;
• promote research and use of environmental history in academic programmes;
• strengthen the crucial link between environmental history, environmental protection, and the general public;
• provide expert services.
2.2 The ESEH aims directly and solely at charitable objectives in the sense of the paragraph “tax privileged objectives” of the German general tax code (in German: “steuerbeguenstigte Zwecke der Abgabenordnung”, paragraph 52-2-1, issued 1.1.1977). The ESEH is unselfish, and does not strive for economic objectives or profit. Any accounting surplus may be used only for purposes which conform to this constitution. Members shall not obtain shares in profit or any other appropriations out of the assets of the ESEH. No person shall be paid high reimbursements or asked to perform administrative tasks that are alien to the objectives of the ESEH.
3.1 Membership of the ESEH is open to any person interested in environmental history or related disciplines and supporting the Objectives of the ESEH (see 2.). It shall not be limited by residency or citizenship.
3.2 There are three classes of membership: Full Membership with all rights is given to persons paying fees; Student Membership with all rights is given to persons paying reduced fees; Institutional Membership with no right to vote or stand for election is given to a legal body or institution paying fees. Other classes of membership may be established by the ordinary General Meeting (OGM).
3.3 Applications for Membership are to be made in writing to the Secretary signed by the person wishing to become a member or through the application procedure on the ESEH website. Applications shall include a curriculum vitae. Within 60 days, applications shall be accepted by the Board upon verification that the person fulfils the conditions laid out herein. The decision of the Board shall be final in this regard. Student Members shall provide a copy of their student card when applying.
3.4 Institutional Members shall be accepted by the Board upon payment of an annual subscription proposed by the Board and voted by the OGM.
3.5 All Institutional Members must have aims and objectives in accord with the Objectives of the ESEH and be considered by the Board to be ethically sound in that regard.
3.6 No Institutional Member may vote or stand for election.
3.7 Membership fees for the ensuing year shall fall due on the first day of January, or one year after the date of initial application for membership and shall be in arrears if not paid within 120 days.
3.8 On a case-by-case basis members are entitled to apply for an exemption from membership fees. The ESEH treasurer may grant such exemptions depending on the financial situation of the society.
4. Termination of Membership
Membership shall be terminated by the following means:
4.1 Resignation: Any Member can resign from the ESEH by addressing their notice of resignation to the Treasurer. The person thereby ceases to be a Member at the end of the calendar year of resignation.
4.2 Expulsion. The Board has the authority to expel a Member, either for failure to pay membership fees (see above 3.8) when a deadline given in a written reminder under penalty of expulsion has expired, or for serious misconduct or bringing the ESEH into disrepute. The decision shall be communicated to the relevant Member by first class registered post letter within 28 clear days of the decision being taken. If the Member sends a request in writing addressed to the President within 60 days of the date on which notice is sent by the Board, the decision to expel shall be considered by the next OGM of the ESEH, which shall be the final arbiter.
4.3 Death. In the event of the death of a Member, membership of the ESEH ceases. The death, resignation or expulsion of a Member shall not entail the termination of the Society, which continues to exist among the other Members. Reimbursement of membership fees which have already been paid is not feasible.
5. General Meetings
5.1 Categories of General Meetings
5.1.1 Ordinary General Meeting (‘the OGM’). An OGM shall take place at least once every two years, in accordance with the decisions of the Board, at the place, day and time indicated in the Notice of Meeting.
5.1.2 Extraordinary General Meeting (‘the EGM’). An EGM or a substitute postal or electronic ballot of the Members may be called by the Board or by the written demand of at least 10% of Members. In the latter case the Meeting must take place within 30 days of the receipt of the demand by the Secretary.
5.2 The General Meeting shall be composed of all the Members of the ESEH whatever their category of membership. No member in arrears for dues shall be permitted to vote or take part in the business of any meeting.
5.3 The decisions taken by a vote in a General Meeting are binding on each and every Member.
5.4 Convening a Meeting
For OGMs and EGMs, the Notice of Meeting should be sent (by ordinary letter or facsimile or electronic mail) to every Member, at least 40 clear days before the date set for the Meeting together with the meeting agenda.
5.5 Composition and Voting
5.5.1 Every general meeting of the ESEH shall be chaired by the President. A Vice-president may also chair the meeting or the meeting may designate a chair from among Members present.
5.5.2 The functions of secretary of the meeting shall be carried out by the Secretary or, in his absence, by a Member present and designated by the Meeting.
5.5.3 A written attendance record shall be made of those present at the Meeting, signed by each Member upon entry to the meeting and certified by the Chair and Secretary of the meeting.
5.5.4 Decisions shall be taken by a show of hands, by simple majority of Members present, except decisions about members of the Board and Regional Representatives (RRs) which shall be taken by secret ballot. For other persons to be elected to societal offices defined in this constitution, the vote shall be taken by a show of hands except if a member demands a secret ballot.
5.5.5 The General Meeting of the Society shall be open to all Members who are not in arrears.
5.6 Quorums and Reconvention
5.6.1 The quorum for an OGM, or a postal ballot, shall be not less than 20% of members entitled to attend and vote.
5.6.2 In the case of an EGM the quorum shall be 30% of members entitled to attend and vote.
5.6.3 In the event of an inquorate OGM or EGM, the meeting shall be adjourned to such a time and place (being not more than 60 clear days following the date of the original meeting) as the chair of the meeting shall determine. At such a Reconvened General Meeting even if it does not reach a quorum, the Members present shall be entitled to consider the resolutions put to the meeting and which business shall be deemed to have been validly transacted for all purposes. This must be announced explicitly in the notice of meeting. If a quorum is not reached for a postal or electronic ballot, then at the discretion of the Board the postal or electronic ballot may be reissued within 30 days of the closing date of the original postal ballot.
5.6.4 All meetings of the ESEH other than OGMs (and postal or electronic ballots) shall be EGMs.
6. Business of the Meeting
6.1 At the OGM, the Board shall report to the Members its the management activities it has undertaken since the previous Meeting, and the Society’s financial situation and the general state of the ESEH.
6.2 The OGM shall:
6.2.1 approve or amend the accounts placed before it by the Treasurer for the preceding period after considering the report of the financial control committee.
6.2.2 vote on the membership fees to be paid by the different classes of Members.
6.2.3 vote on additions and amendments to the constitution, which require approval by 75% of those members present and voting at a meeting.
6.2.4 vote on the replacement and election of Board members, Regional Representatives, as well as members of the Financial Control Committee as required in this constitution.
6.2.5 At all general meetings of the ESEH the Members shall consider only that business which has been notified to the Members in the notice calling the relevant meeting.
7. The Board
7.1 The ESEH shall be governed by a board (‘the Board’). The Board consists of a President, two Vice-Presidents, a Secretary, a Treasurer, and five Regional Representatives appointed by the Council of Regional Representatives (see below 12). The Chair of the Conference Committee (see 13.5.4) also becomes ex officio a temporary member of the Board, until the next conference.
7.2. The President, the two Vice-presidents, the Secretary, and the Treasurer shall be elected at every Ordinary General Meeting, which has to be held every two years, and shall remain in office until the day after their successors are elected.
7.3 They shall be elected at the OGM by a simple majority of those voting. These officers cannot simultaneously hold other functions within the Board. The President, the Vice-presidents, and the Secretary are eligible to be re-elected for only one further term in the same office. All these elections can be contested elections (see 13.4.2).
7.4 The RRs shall be elected at the OGM by a simple majority of those voting. They are eligible to re-elected for only one further term in the same office. These elections can be contested elections (see 13.4.2).
7.5 The RRs who are also members of the Board shall be elected by theirs peers at the meeting of the Council of Regional Representatives that meets immediately after every OGM. These officers cannot simultaneously hold other functions within the Board. Their terms as members of the Board shall begin the day after this election and end at the next OGM.
7.6 The offices of Board member and RR of the ESEH shall be unpaid.
8. Powers of the Board
8.1 The Board is entitled to act in the name of the ESEH and to carry out or authorize all actions and operations permitted to the ESEH according to the constitution which are not specifically in the domain of a General Meeting to decide.
8.2 The Board may utilize the ESEH’s funds and represent the ESEH in its promotion or defence.
8.3 Every member of the Board in the proper performance of his duties shall be liable for default, breach of duty or breach of trust and severe negligence solely. Board members responsible for judicial proceedings or for the organization of events on behalf of the ESEH shall be indemnified out the assets of the ESEH against any liability incurred by them in the proper performance of their duties.
8.4 The Board or any of its number as its members may determine may hold any assets or property (whether real or personal) in trust for the ESEH.
8.5 In order to establish links with external organizations the Board may appoint representatives to or from external organizations. Such representatives from other organizations have no vote in the ESEH.
9. Duties of the Board
9.1 The Board is responsible for setting up a project plan to further the objectives of the ESEH and for presenting it to the Council of Regional Representatives for approval. The Board is responsible for ensuring the pursuit of such projects. The organization of a biennial conference of the ESEH is considered a permanent project.
9.2 The President shall be responsible for execution of the Board’s decisions and for assuring the proper and effective functioning of the Society. He shall prepare the agenda of all business meetings and preside at them. He shall be entitled to appoint and remove members of the nomination committee and other committees, except where otherwise provided for in this Constitution. Together with the Secretary, he shall be responsible for the preparation of the biennial report.
9.3 The two Vice-presidents shall support the President in the exercise of his duties and take the place of the President as the situation requires. As far as possible, they shall be entrusted with a specific task or the pursuit of a specific objective, in accordance with decisions taken by the Board.
9.4 The Secretary shall prepare the minutes of all the business meetings of the Society and shall keep a record of them. Together with the President, he shall be responsible for the preparation of the biennial report. He shall give notice to all members of the time and place of the meetings of the Board and the Council of RRs (see art. 12), and the OGM, at least 40 clear days in advance. He shall send out lists of nominees to all members in advance of the election of officers; shall report election results to the membership; shall have charge of the corporate seal of the society; and shall notify all committees of their appointment.
9.5 The Treasurer shall deal with the accounts of the ESEH and, under the guidance of the President, shall maintain the list of members, effect all payments and receive all monies, and under instruction of the Board deal with the withdrawal, transfer and sale of all assets of the ESEH.
9.6 As far as possible the Board entrusts its members (both those elected by the Council of Regional Representatives and those elected by the OGM) with specific tasks, depending on the needs and current projects of the society. Among these tasks are, for example: Webmaster; Member of the Summer School Committee; Member of the Editorial Committee, etc.
10. The Legal Representative
10.1 The Board members shall elect a Legal Representative of German nationality who is member of ESEH and has a domicile in Germany. The appointment of a member of the Board as Legal Representative or as head of a committee shall be feasible.
10.2 The ESEH is represented by the President and the Legal Representative in the sense of paragraph 26 of the German Civil Law (BGB).
10.3 The office of Legal Representative of the ESEH shall be unpaid.
11. Regional Representatives
11.1 The Regional Representatives (RRs) represent an area. This area shall cover at least one entire country, but it may encompass several of them. No country shall be obliged to be represented by a RR of another country without the agreement of ESEH members in that country. No minimum number of ESEH members is necessary for a RR to be appointed in a country or group of countries. The creation of a new RR shall be proposed by one or more member(s) of the concerned country (or group of countries), according to the procedure defined in article 13.4.2.b. The total number of RRs is not determined and shall vary according to the needs and possibilities.
11.2 Regional Representatives shall be elected for four years by the Ordinary General Meeting in contested elections (see art. 13.4.2.b). They may be re-elected for one further term only.
11.3 RRs will disseminate information from the ESEH to the members in their region and to other individuals and institutions. They are entitled and encouraged to use the ESEH name and logo in all such communications. They represent ESEH in their region.
11.4 Conversely, they will collect information on relevant activities in their region and inform the ESEH about such activities.
11.5 In case of demission of a RR during his term, the Board nominates a provisional RR serving until the next OGM.
11.6 The office of RR shall be unpaid.
12. Council of Regional Representatives
12.1 The Council of Regional Representatives (CRR) includes all the RRs. It shall meet every two years immediately after the Ordinary General Meeting.
12.2 For this meeting, the CRR appoints a chair who coordinates the discussions and the votes. The CCR elects five of its members who become members of the Board, along with the five members elected by the OGM.
12.3 The CRR shall be entitled to make any suggestion it considers appropriate regarding ESEH policies to the Board.
12.4 The Board shall present its project Plan to the CRR, for adoption. In case of rejection, the CRR shall justify its decision and make suggestions for modification. The Board will then submit a new, modified project plan.
12.5 The CRR selects the date and place for the next biennial meeting, on the proposal of the Board, by voting with a simple majority. A rejection of the Board’s proposal has to be qualified. In case of rejection the Board has to re-evaluate the proposal and present a new proposal together with a report declaring why the objections of the CRR have been acknowledged or not. After a second rejection by the CRR the Board is entitled to take a decision.
12.6 The CRR does not meet between two OGMs. The work related to the previous points is carried out by electronic communication.
13.1 Permanent or provisional Committees can be created by the Board when the Society decides to undertake a new task. Unless stated otherwise below, the Board shall decide on the structure of committees and appoints their members. The creation of these committees shall be approved by the next OGM if they are to last beyond the date of this OGM. The members of the committees always work in accordance with the Board and report to it about their work. The Board can decide to terminate committees if it deems this appropriate, except for the committees mentioned below, which are statutory unless the constitution is revised.
13.2 The office of Committee member shall be unpaid.
13.3 Financial Control Committee
The Financial Control Committee (FCC) consists of two members from outside the Board. It audits the books of the Society on a biennial basis and reports directly to the OGM. Its members are elected for two years by the OGM upon nomination by the nomination committee. They are eligible to be re-elected for one further term.
13.4 Nomination Committee
13.4.1 The Nomination Committee (NC) consists of five members of which three are RRs. The OGM elects these three members on the proposal of the President. The two other members are appointed by the Board. Members serve renewable, four-year terms. They are informed of the precise nature of the duty they will have to fulfil by the President.
13.4.2 The role of the NC is to identify competent candidates for the Society offices in terms of legal, scientific and organisational aspects and to propose them to the OGM 13.4.3 The NC prepares lists of nominees for:
a. the Board. The NC actively seeks the advice of all members on nominees for the members of the Board that will be elected by the OGM. It selects nominees from all suggestions that have been brought to its attention. Any member can propose his or someone else’s candidacy. He must do so to the NC at least 80 days before the next OGM. For each office several candidates can be nominated if several competent candidates have been proposed whom the NC has deemed appropriate.
b. the Regional Representatives whose term is due to end. The NC actively seeks the advice of all members on nominees for RR. It selects nominees from all suggestions that have been brought to its attention. Any member can propose his or someone else’s candidacy. He must do so to the NC, at least 80 days before the next OGM. If this candidacy concerns a new country (or group of countries), the NC will evaluate, in common with the Board, the opportunity to create a new RR position. This evaluation will be provisional until the next OGM, that shall approve of the principle of the creation of this new RR position before the election of a new RR. The Nomination Committee seeks the approval of candidates for their nomination. For each office several candidates can be nominated if several competent candidates have been proposed that the NC has deemed appropriate.
13.4.4 The NC seeks the approval of nominees for their nomination and collects relevant information about them.
13.4.5 The list of nominees and relevant information have to be submitted to the Board, through the Secretary, 50 clear days prior to the OGM. The list of nominees shall be distributed to all members at least 40 days before the OGM. Relevant information about candidates shall be posted on the website at least 30 days before the OGM and the members informed of this posting.
13.4.6 Although spontaneous candidacies are possible, they shall be put forward according to the procedure laid down in article 13.4.2 a. and b., in order to make it possible for ESEH members to be informed on the nominees before the vote. No new candidacy will be accepted in the 80 days preceding the OGM nor at the OGM.
13.4.7 Although no quota is set, the Nomination Committee shall seek, for every elections, the best possible equity between gender, region, seniority and any other criterion deemed appropriate to represent the diversity of ESEH.
13.4.8 Members of the Nomination Committee cannot be nominated to any position in the Board or as a RR during their term in this Committee.
13.5 Conference Committee
13.5.1 For the organization of the conference, connected with the OGM every two years, a Conference Committee is appointed by the Board. The Conference Committee consists of a local group of organizers (Local Organizing Committee) and of a scientific group of international scholars (Scientific Committee). The Chair of Conference Committee is appointed by the Board.
13.5.2 The conference shall be hosted by a European scholarly institution. Candidates to organize a conference shall answer the call issued by the Board. They present their application following a guideline provided by the Board.
13.5.3 All applications are acknowledged by the Board. The Board evaluates the candidatures and prepares a proposal for CRR. The selection process follows the specification in 12.5 of this constitution.
13.5.4 The Chair of the Conference Committee shall become a Board member, ex officio, until the conference. He works in contact with the President during the preparation of the conference, informs the Board of the state of the preparation and seeks its advice if necessary.
13.5.5 The members of the Scientific Committee are appointed by the President in agreement with the Chair of the Conference Committee, and approved by the Board. The number of members of the Scientific Committee shall not exceed six.
13.6 ESEH Prize Committee and Book Prize Committee
13.6.1 The ESEH Prize Committee consists of three members and serves to organize the presentation of the ESEH prize according to its own statutes. Its members are appointed by the Board and can serve for two successive terms.
13.6.2 The composition of the Book Prize Committee ¬—the name of which shall be determined in common with the Rachel Carson Center for Environmental Studies (Munich) which sponsors it— shall be defined by the agreement binding ESEH and the Rachel Carson Center. The Board appoints the members of this Committee in accordance with this agreement.
13.7 Editorial Committee
The Editorial Committee consists of two members of ESEH, who may or may not be members of the Board, who shall represent the ESEH in the editorial team of the series “The Environment in History: International Perspectives”, run jointly with the Rachel Carson Center and Berghahn Books. These members are appointed by the Board. They shall serve for a four year term. They can be re-appointed if the Board deems this appropriate.
13.8 Summer School Committee
13.8.1 The Summer School Committee consists of four or five members of the ESEH, who may or may not be members of the Board.
13.8.2 The Committee shall edit guidelines for the organization of Summer Schools in Environmental History, stating the aims of the School and how it will operate. These guidelines shall be approved by the Board.
13.8.3 The Committee will seek candidates to organize a biennial ESEH Summer School to be held on the years between the conferences, and will approve one of them after referring the list of candidates to the Board.
13.8.4 The Committee will not organize the Summer School itself, but actively support the organizer, for example in raising funds, setting the programme and finding appropriate teaching staff.
13.8.5 The Committee will ensure continuity from one Summer School to the next. It will encourage the foundation of an ESEH Summer School alumni group, with the aim of consolidating the European environmental history community.
14. Administrative Offices
14.1 The Board may, unanimously, appoint officially any member as an Assistant to pursue certain tasks on behalf of the Board for a certain period of time, until the subsequent OGM at the latest.
14.2 The names and addresses of all Assistants, Committee and Board Members shall be published together with their tasks on the website of the Society.
15. Assets and Resources
15.1 The Board may determine at any time to maintain a reserve fund.
15.2 The reserve fund may be enhanced every year by up to 33% of the excess of annual receipts over expenses.
15.3 The reserve fund shall be employed in the first instance for the purchase of properties needed to achieve the ESEH’s objectives, and to equip and furnish them, and to pay for repairs or the costs of refurbishment.
15.4 Any investments made by the Board shall take account of the objectives of the ESEH and shall be ethically sound in that regard.
16.1 The dissolution of the ESEH can be decided only by an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Members or a ballot called by one third of the members. The dissolution shall be effective only if more than 50% of the members attend the meeting or ballot respectively, and if a majority of more than 66% votes for dissolution. In the case of voluntary dissolution of the ESEH, the EGM shall name one or more liquidators who thereby receive full powers to realize the assets of the ESEH and acquit the debts, after recuperating monies known to be owing from any parties.
16.2 In case of dissolution or cancellation of charitable aims the assets of the ESEH after all liabilities have been discharged shall be transferred to the B.U.N.D. e.V. (Bund fuer Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland e.V., Berlin / the German Federation for Nature Protection and the Environment, www.bund.net) who shall use them for charitable aims directly and solely. Resolutions on the legacy of the ESEH can only be put into effect after the consent of the German tax authorities.
17.1 The terms of this Constitution shall come into effect with the resolution of the 5th Ordinary General Meeting, held on Thursday, August 6th 2009, in Copenhagen, and shall be published on the official ESEH web site. This constitution supersedes all other similar documents, which are hereby revoked.
17.2 The President and the Legal Representative are entitled to establish necessary amendments to this constitution which are demanded in writing by the Tax Authorities or the Court responsible for the Registration of Societies in order to achieve or maintain the status of a Non-Profit Organization.
17.3 As transitional rule, Members of the Board and RRs whose term comes to end or is still ongoing at the OGM of 2009, will be eligible in the same office only for one more term.
Signed at Frederiksberg, 2009-08-06 by
Geneviève Massard-Guilbaud (President)
Martin Knoll (Secretary)