Since the flightless and hub conferencing model is a an emerging form of connecting and sharing our research, we have gathered frequently asked questions. If you have questions about EVENT 2024, please contact us at email@example.com.
Why change the way we do conferences?
The precipitating reason for imagining a different format for our conferences is the climate crisis. A single 350-person conference requires the equivalent of an entire year’s carbon footprint of about 100 average world citizens. That is a conservative estimate that calculates the carbon footprint of airfare alone. If the main purpose of academic organizations like NAVSA, BAVS, AVSA, VI and DACH-V is to get people to travel to conferences, then our organizations will die as the climate crisis continues to develop. Some universities are already discouraging such conference travel because of climate concerns. We need an alternative. Video conferencing is not a good enough solution since most people get fatigued on these platforms after even just a single panel. We propose a hybrid solution: monthly Zoom panels leading up to a series of hub events in September, with substantive international networking facilitated by COVE. People can choose to participate in whatever ways they wish: just attending the Zoom events, just attending the hubs, just annotating in COVE, or any combination of the three.
Why are we using the hub model of conferencing?
We want to preserve what is good about face-to-face events while facilitating international networking in a way that gets around the massive carbon footprint of long-haul flights. We did our best to come up with hubs: 17 of them on 4 continents. We also tried hard to make sure we had hubs that could help Australasians be involved. Not everyone will avoid plane travel with our plan but we hope this solution gets us around long-haul flights, which are the most polluting. On the whole, though, our event is designed to reduce the carbon footprint of our conferences at some measurable degree of scale, while preserving what is essential about these events. Some things will even be an improvement: cheaper access to networking for contingent and non-tenure-track faculty, avoidance of hotels and their exorbitant costs, a return to campuses, more intimate gatherings with fewer concurrent panels, the ability to access all the papers that interest you, greater total attendance, even a reduced danger of spreading disease.
Why should I pay for a Zoom event? Shouldn’t it be free and open to all?
Our goal has been to provide a more equitable alternative to traditional, on-site conferences. An on-site conference incurs a considerably greater cost, including a greater carbon cost.
That does not mean, however, that online events like ours can or should be free. NAVSA did provide free Zoom sessions during the pandemic; however, it is important to recognize that that was a special emergency measure to respond to the crisis of the moment. It was not a sustainable approach to such events because of the costs tied to doing it right, especially labor. To do such a set of panels right, a properly paid research assistant is needed, at the very least. For EVENT 2024, our two research assistants will have cost over $100,000 over the three semesters of this effort (fall 2023, spring 2024, fall 2024).
Let’s put that in perspective given the low registration fee we have established for EVENT 2024. If we have 300 regular registrations at $100 and 200 student/contingent at $50, then by the end of EVENT 2024 central registration will have received a total of $40,000. That’s all.
A better comparison would be the all-online format of NAVSA’s Virtual Vancouver conference. For that event, Vancouver paid $35,000 for the Forj online platform alone. Registration for the event was around $300 for regular members. That is par for the course for such an event. Here is a webpage that lays out the “average cost of hosting a virtual event”: https://raffertyweiss.com/average-cost-of-hosting-a-virtual-event-and-how-to-budget/
We are building COVE Conferences precisely so that we have a non-profit, NAVSA-owned alternative to expensive for-profit platforms like Forj. And, we have done so using grant funding rather than registration income: a Purdue grant in the amount of $34,500 and additional funding from Baylor University. In addition to those funds, Dino Felluga and Adrian Wisnicki secured a $350,000 NEH grant for COVE, some of which is dedicated to work on the COVE platform.
Is financial assistance available?
Multiple sources of assistance are available to support conference participation for scholars in financial need.
The EVENT 2024 Fellowship awards free conference registration to those selected on the basis of need. To be considered for the first round of fellowships, please apply by February 26.
Will there be as much pay-off for me in this format?
Here is a way to think about it. If you give a talk at a traditional conference panel, there is the chance that you get a small audience as there are usually 10-14 concurrent panels happening simultaneously at a large conference like NAVSA (and you miss out on those other talks while you are delivering your own paper). Our goal is to open your work to everyone attending at all of the hubs from around the world. Anyone at any of the hubs who is interested in your topic will have the opportunity to read your work and engage with you in a substantive way.
What if I can’t afford to travel to a hub or I prefer a digital event?
No problem: you can still participate in the virtual events and get access to papers at the hubs through COVE. Annotation at COVE allows you then to engage with the authors directly.
Can I still fly?
Our goal is to reduce long-haul flights. Some participants will be too far from a hub to drive or to take public transit. Others will have other compelling reasons to fly. Hopefully, though, we have made it possible for you to participate in one of the 17 hubs that is close to where you are already planning to be in September of 2024. If our event is successful and we decide to do this again, perhaps we can convince more hubs to be involved the next time.
Can I submit proposals to multiple hubs?
Though we appreciate that different hubs can hold interest for individual scholars, we are not accepting proposals to multiple hubs from the same individual. This ensures a streamlined process for hub leaders and limits the risks of panels losing participants.
Since we own COVE Conferences, we can use it to reduce conference costs.
COVE Conferences also improves accessibility in two ways: 1) Rather than relying on speakers to provide ADA-compliant papers at the time of the panel, accessibility copies will already be available through COVE; 2) As an asynchronous platform, COVE is inclusive of different time zones and uses little bandwidth to meet the capabilities of different internet connections.
After the first COVE-enabled panel of this conference, we circulated a survey. Comments about COVE Conferences were very positive: “The social annotation was exciting”; “loved the annotation function”; “I love the new interface”; “I like the annotation tool quite a bit”; “I really liked the format of very short presentations and lots of discussion, and particularly how the discussion on zoom looked back onto the conversations that had been going on in Cove”; “I like this version of precirculated papers with the annotations so that presenters can have the useful input and engage during the conversation time”; “what surprised me the most and seemed utterly productive was the opportunity to annotate and to have those notes be ‘interactive,’ prompting further exchange. The tech that allowed folks to annotate the image blew me away”; “I loved the platform—being able to take my time with the papers beforehand, read other’s thoughts and add my own. It was much more egalitarian than a traditional panel with Q&A”; “As a presenter, I found it all incredibly stimulating. It was a brilliant opportunity not only to present my work to an international audience, but to get engaged feedback”; “It’s a very welcome experiment and I applaud your commitment to no fly.”