Research Committee on 
Sociology of Disasters RC39


January, 2009

Part 1:  Evolution of the IRCD By-Laws

The first set of by-laws was approved in 1984. However, as a result of International Sociological Association (ISA) requirements, formal and informal RC-39 Board approvals, and institutionalization of traditional procedures, a number of changes occurred in the initial by-laws. These changes were written by E.L. Quarantelli, President of RC-39, 1982-1986.

The by-laws were first printed in 1988 (and reprinted exactly the same in 1995).  Unfortunately, and for reasons unknown, the 1988 statement did not include all the changes made between 1984 and 1988 and of course could not include changes made since 1988. This 2007 revision of the RC-39 by-laws was drafted by E.L. Quarantelli and approved by the sitting Executive Committee.

Part 2:  By-Laws, including all updates through 2008

  1. The governing body of the RC-39 is a Board consisting of eight members (five elected---the President, the Vice President, and three at large members: the appointed RC-39 Secretary-Treasurer; and two ex-officio members---the previous term President and the previous Secretary-Treasurer).
  2. The Board has the general responsibility of approving the policies of the Committee, oversee its collective activities, and otherwise undertake such actions as are necessary for the operation of the Committee.
  3. Board advice may be given and decisions may be reached at meetings where at least five board members are present and/or through mail or electronic communications among all Board members.
  4. The President of the RC-39 is responsible for calling and for chairing Board meetings, as well as representing the Committee in its relationship with other groups including the ISA, the carrying out such other activities as recommended by the Board, the setting up and monitoring of standing (e.g. the RC-39 award committees) and ad hoc RC-39 committees, as well as all other activities not specifically enumerated in the by-laws as are necessary for the functioning of the Committee.
  5. The President of the RC-39, in consultation with other Board members, will fill any vacancies in Board membership created by death, incapacitation, resignation, or other inability of any incumbent to carry out his or her responsibility.
  6. The Vice President of the Committee, upon getting Board approval, will assume the responsibilities of the RC-39 President in the case of the death, incapacitation, resignation or other inability of the incumbent to act as President.
  7. The Secretary-Treasurer of the RC-39, appointed by the RC-39 President after consultation with the Board, will maintain the membership rolls of the Committee, accept dues and gifts, hold all RC-39 funds, and otherwise be responsible for such administrative matters of the Committee as requested by the RC-39 President and/or determined by the Board.  Any single payment from RC-39 funds by the Secretary-Treasurer of over $250 (USA) requires a confirming agreement by the RC-39 President.  As indicated in #16 below, the Secretary-Treasurer ought to provide a report at least every two years in the RC-39 newsletter.
  8. Board members serve for a four year term until the next election of Board members.  All, except the incumbent RC-39 President who can never be reelected, are eligible for reelection, up to eight years. Board members, according to ISA rules, must be paid up members of both the ISA and the RC-39 and can not assume office until the ISA confirms their status.
  9. Ex officio members, who for whatever reason can not or will not carry out their role, will not be replaced and their Board office will be left vacant.
  10. The RC-39 President, after consultation with the Board, will be responsible for obtaining nominations for the next election, for arranging the slate of candidates (and insuring representations from the diversity of the RC-39 generally), counting the votes (electronically if possible), and otherwise insuring that  the election is a valid one.
  11.  Only individual members of the Committee who have fully paid their dues for the year in which the election is held are eligible to be nominated for Board offices and to vote in the election.
  12. Organizational members of the Committee can not be elected to the Board or vote in Committee elections.
  13. Benefits that organizational members can get from membership are determined by the RC-39 President after consultation with the Board.
  14. Dues and qualifications for individual and organizational memberships are to be set by the RC-39 President and the RC-39 Secretary-Treasurer after consultation with the Board.
  15. The RC-39 should have a newsletter (electronic if possible) to be distributed on a regular basis to all RC-39 members.  Its editor is appointed by the RC-39 President after consultation with the Board.
  16. The overall content of the newsletter is at the discretion of its editor. However, the RC-39 President ought to use the newsletter regularly to report Board activity as well as other information of relevance to RC-39 members. At least every two years the RC-39 Secretary-Treasurer should provide for publication a general public accounting of all funds obtained and expenditures incurred by the RC-39 during that time period.  The form of the report should follow generally accepted accounting principles and the format of financial reports from previous years.
  17.   The relationship of the Committee to any other publication, such as a professional journal, monograph series, or electronic web site, etc. should be individually negotiated by the RC-39 President after consultation with the Board. However, the RC-39 Board is the Advisory Board of the RC-39 journal, the International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters with its editor being selected by the RC-39 President after consultation with the RC-39 Board.
  18. All Board recommendations and decisions are subject to review at a general meeting of individual Committee members provided a majority of individual members are present.
  19. Only individual RC-39 members who are in good standing are eligible to present       matters for Board consideration.
  20. Changes in committee by-laws can be made by a majority of Board members subject to a supporting majority vote by all eligible individual Committee members.  A change does not become effective until both majority votes occur.


Part 3:  Standing Committees of the RC-39

There are three standing committees and each oversees the giving of awards.

  1. The Charles E. Fritz Award for Career Achievements in the Social Science Disaster Area.  It is given for significant and numerous contributions to the disaster area such as the conducting of research, publications, policy development as well as providing of major input into the professional developments of the field.  The intent of the RC-39 is to recognize major and notable career achievements over a lifetime.


The Board of the RC-39 confirms the award recommended by the RC-39 President on the advice of the Fritz Award subcommittee designated by the President.  It is given every four years at the ISA World Congress of Sociology. 

  1. The E. L. Quarantelli Award for Social Science Disaster Theory. It is given in

recognition of notable and significant theoretical work by social and behavioral scientists in the disaster area.  The intent in giving this award is to encourage the international development of theory relevant to disaster phenomena.

A committee of five disaster researchers appointed by the RC-39 President considers nominations for the award. The RC-39 President designates the committee chair. It can be given every two years and requires a lecture by the award winner at some professional meeting.

  1. The Samuel H. Prince Award for a Doctoral Dissertation on a Disaster Topic in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. It is given in recognition for initial and notable accomplishments by disaster researchers in the social and behavioral sciences.  The intent in giving this award is to encourage the early identification of exceptional research talent, to the extent it can be indicated by a doctoral dissertation.


A committee of disaster researchers appointed by the RC-39 President reviews nominations for this award and select a final winner.  It can be given every year.

Part 4:  Legal Status of the RC-39

In 2000 the RC-39 established a fully legal corporate identity and tax-exempt status in the United States. Since then it has been a 501(c) (3) tax exempt corporation under US law. The non-profit status of the RC-39 was confirmed in a document from the US Internal Revenue service in May 2000, held by each Secretary-Treasurer.

The incorporation was done to provide RC-39 officers legal protection against personal law suits in their position as officers, to allow anyone giving a gift to the RC-39 to receive formal acknowledgement of the gift for US income tax deduction purposes, and to exempt the RC-39 from certain taxes on some incomes that it receives.  Also, as a corporate entity, the RC-39 can own property (e.g., its web site server currently located at Millersville University is owned by the RC-39) and receive royalties (e.g. all royalties from the RC-39 book series go exclusively to the RC-39).

In line with the incorporation the RC-39 acknowledges the following with respect to the IRS Code:

Article 25.
Said committee is organized exclusively for charitable, religious, educational, and scientific purposes, including, for such purposes, the making of distributions to organizations that qualify as exempt organizations under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or corresponding section of any future federal tax code.

Article 26.
No part of the net earnings of the committee shall inure to the benefit of, or be distributable to its members, trustees, officers, or other private persons, except that the committee shall be authorized and empowered to  pay reasonable compensation for services rendered and to make payments and distributions in furtherance of the purposes set forth in Article 25 hereof.  No substantial part of the activities of the committee shall be the carrying  on of propaganda,  or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, and the committee shall not participate in, or intervene in  (including the publishing or distribution of statements) any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.  Notwithstanding any other provision of these articles the committee shall not carry on any other activities not permitted to be carried on (a) by a committee exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or corresponding section of any future federal tax code, or (b) by a corporation, contributions to which are deductible under section 170(c)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code, or corresponding section  of any future federal tax code.

Article 27.

Upon the dissolution of the committee, assets shall be distributed for one or more exempt purposes within the meaning of section 501c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or corresponding section of any future federal tax code, or shall be distributed to the federal government, or to a state or  local government, for a public purpose.  Any such assets not so disposed of shall be disposed of by the Court of Common Pleas of the county in which the principle office of the committee is then located, exclusively for such purposes or to such organization or organizations, as said Court shall determine, which are  organized and operated exclusively for such purposes.


International Sociological Association