Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-2020-49
https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-2020-49

  16 Feb 2021

16 Feb 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GC.

The Future of Conferences

Hazel Gibson1, Sam Illingworth2, and Susanne Buiter3 Hazel Gibson et al.
  • 1European Geosciences Union, München, Germany
  • 2School of Biological Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Australia
  • 3Division of Earth Sciences and Geography, RWTH Aachen University, Germany

Abstract. In the spring of 2020, as the coronavirus swept across the globe, millions of people were required to make drastic changes to their lives to help contain the impact of the virus. Among those changes, scientific conferences of every type and size were forced to cancel or postpone in order to protect public health. Included in these was the European Geosciences Union (EGU) 2020 General Assembly, an annual conference for Earth, planetary and space scientists, scheduled to be held in Vienna, Austria, in May 2020. After a six-week pivot to an online alternative, attendees of the newly designed EGU20: Sharing Geoscience Online took part in the first geoscience conference of its size to go fully online. This paper explores the feedback provided by participants following this experimental conference and identifies four key themes that emerged from analysis of the questions: what did people miss from a regular meeting; and to what extent did going online impact the event itself, both in terms of challenges and opportunities? The themes identified are: connection, engagement, environment, and accessibility; and include discussions of the value of informal connections and spontaneous scientific discovery during conferences, the necessity of considering the environmental cost of in-person meetings, and the opportunities for widening participation in science by investing in accessibility. The responses in these themes cover both positive and negative experiences of participants and raise important questions about what conference providers of the future will need to do to meet the needs of the scientific community in the years following the coronavirus outbreak.

Hazel Gibson et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on gc-2020-49', Anthea Lacchia, 24 Feb 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on gc-2020-49', Jen Roberts, 01 Apr 2021

Hazel Gibson et al.

Hazel Gibson et al.

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Short summary
In the spring of 2020, in response to the escalating global coronavirus pandemic, the European Geosciences Union (EGU) moved it's annual General Assembly online in a matter of weeks. This paper explores the feedback provided by participants who attended this experimental conference and identifies four key themes that emerged from analysis of the survey: connection, engagement, environment, and accessibility. The responses raise important questions about the format of future conferences.
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