Call for Proposals: Organize an ASLE Virtual Off-Year Symposium for 2020

ASLE seeks proposals to organize and “host” a virtual conference in 2020, similar to our first Nearly Carbon Neutral off-Year Symposium in 2018, entitled A Clockwork Green: Ecomedia in the Anthropocene.  We are open to any thematic ideas that will encompass current trends in the environmental humanities.

We realize that an online-only symposium is a different animal than planning a traditional conference. Last year’s event was a collaboration between ASLE, which provided funding for keynote speakers, publicity, and processed registrations, and UC Santa Barbara, which provided the web site and tech support. We are envisioning a similar collaboration for 2020. To assist people in thinking and planning for such an event, we have asked last year’s planners and the leaders of ASLE’s Ecomedia Special Interest Group to assemble a FAQ as a resource, which is included below.

To propose a NCN symposium, please use the form on our website: https://asle.org/conference/affiliated-symposia/propose-a-symposium/.  While it was set up with regional in-person conferences in mind, it can easily be adapted to the NCN format by leaving fields that don’t pertain blank or answering “N/A”.  Deadline for proposals is December 1, 2019.  We will endeavor to make a decision on proposals as immediately as possible so as to give maximum time for planning the event.

Nearly Carbon Neutral (NCN) Symposium FAQs
Contributed by ASLE Ecomedia SIG coordinators, Bridgitte Barclay and Christy Tidwell

Last summer, the Ecomedia Special Interest Group held a Nearly Carbon Neutral (NCN) digital off-year symposium sponsored by ASLE. UC Santa Barbara hosted A Clockwork Green: Ecomedia in the Anthropocene as part of Ken Hiltner’s ongoing work with NCN conferences as Director of UCSB’s Environmental Humanities Initiative. Ken and his staff make the NCN conference model accessible to folks with any level of digital skills, and they create the website and do all of the digital work. Organizers and participants do not need to know more than how to record a video and upload it.

There are numerous advantages to the format — it’s nearly carbon neutral, it’s accessible for people with disabilities, it’s accessible to international scholars and graduate students with a variety of pay options, it enables more in-depth Q&A sessions, participants can attend all talks, and the talks remain online for research and/or use in the classroom. Even with a free option for registration and participation, most people paid the small registration ($25-50) and the Ecomedia SIG made enough to pay back ASLE’s seed money and to sponsor film screenings at the ASLE 2019 Biennial Conference. Please take a look at the Clockwork Green conference website, noting plenary speakers, panel organization, and comment sections.

Q: How do I begin the process?
A: Talk with Ken as you put together your off-year symposium proposal for ASLE. When you think of budget, consider that because plenary speakers are not traveling, they are generally willing to give a talk for less than if they had to travel over more time. Also, consider how you want to charge. For the Ecomedia SIG, we wanted open access with a sort of donation. We had a registration amount (very small compared to other conferences), but we also had a free option, and the format is open access.

Q: How much digital knowledge do organizers need and how tech savvy do presenters need to be?
A: See above. If you use social media, you have the skills you need. Ken provides clear instructions for presentation options and video options, but using an iPhone video with Google Slides works perfectly. Many presenters did just that, despite other options.

Q: How do presenters handle copyright issues?
A: This can be a bit tricky. Because the symposium is open access, it does not follow academic fair use as we are all used to. Movie clips, excerpts, and images may need copyright clearance, but that was not a difficult issue at the Ecomedia Symposium. Ken can help you navigate this.

Q: How does the time commitment vary from a traditional conference?
A: The conference runs longer (two weeks for ours), but there is not a huge time commitment daily. We asked participants to sign up for emails when they received comments on their presentations and respond daily during those two weeks. This was one of participants’favorite features of this conference because the conversations took on a depth and connection with other panels that was engaging and insightful. And because of how long it lasted, participants could watch and comment on all panels if they wanted. They could also use the videos and comments in classes or for research later.

Bridgitte Barclay (bbarclay@aurora.edu) and Christy Tidwell (christy.tidwell@gmail.com) are happy to answer any questions. A first step would be to peruse the conference and to read Ken Hiltner’s white paper on NCN conferences at this address: http://hiltner.english.ucsb.edu/index.php/ncnc-guide/