Proposing a Chapman Conference
- Participants and Size
- Financial Responsibility
- Approved Conferences
- Poster Sessions
- Checklist for Chapman Conference Proposals
Any AGU member may propose to convene a Chapman Conference. Organizing a Chapman Conference should be a rewarding and satisfying experience for the Conveners and Program Committee. AGU’s Meetings and Conferences Department handles the administrative details and logistics so that the program committee can focus on the science. This information is provided to assist in the organization and management of a successful Chapman Conference. Questions regarding Chapman Conference proposals should be directed to Brenda Weaver, AGU's Director of Meetings, at BWeaver@agu.org and A. Surjalal Sharma, Chapman Conference Chairman, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Conveners should identify the topical focus of the proposed Chapman Conference. Discussions with a group of scientists that represent the breadth of the topic, the diversity of opinions, and the scientific need will serve to focus the conference and the required discussion within the proposal. This ad hoc group could evolve into the Program Committee.
The Conveners should prepare a scientific statement of topics to be addressed at the Chapman Conference. This scientific statement should evolve into a cogent 5-10 page discussion document with alternative views of issues, and the defined scientific relevance of the focus. Appropriate references should be cited. This statement becomes the body of the proposal which will be scientifically reviewed within the AGU system and will become the proposal submitted to national funding agencies, if appropriate. As such, the statement is of necessity concise, yet well documented. This statement can often be revised slightly for submission to Eos, after the conference has been approved.
The Conveners should solicit and establish a Program Committee. The Program Committee should consist of members who can represent all controversial views of the topic. Individuals listed as the Program Committee should have agreed to serve in this capacity. Generally there are 2-3 Conveners. It is recommended that one convener be a senior scientist in the field. This could impact the outcome of a highly successful conference. Usually a well-known scientist can help to attract keynote speakers and expected attendance. There should be a balanced committee, both geographically and geophysically. The Conveners should work with the Program Committee to establish
- potential participants,
- size, time, & schedule,
- sponsorship, and
- the program plan.
Participants and Size
The Conveners should establish an appropriate list of potential participants. Attendance experience suggests that the most productive Chapman Conferences include 80-120 people with 15-20 graduate students. Larger groups inhibit adequate discussion and smaller groups usually cannot cover the breadth of the topic. Attendance must not exceed 150 participants.
The timing of the conference should be selected to optimize the scientific productivity of the conference, but usually requires 15 months between proposal and conference. However, it should also avoid direct and undesirable conflicts with scheduled meetings of AGU or other societies.
The duration of a Chapman Conference is normally three to five days, although longer conferences may be warranted on occasions. Conference objectives are best served when all participants remain for the full conference and participate in all activities, scientific and social. Conferences longer than five days in duration usually suffer serious attrition in attendance.
The site should be carefully chosen to promote conference objectives, to limit distractions, and to provide adequate facilities so that participants can meet, have housing facilities and meals in a congenial, informal setting while keeping costs reasonable. Hotels and lodges in tourist centers or resort areas during the off-season, or college campuses during semester breaks often provide excellent facilities at reasonable costs. Locations may also be chosen to allow for a field trip to a site of scientific interest. Chapman Conferences can be held almost anywhere, although a site should be selected with consideration for travel problems and costs.
Selection of the site is made by the Conveners with agreement by the AGU staff. The Conveners do not have to search for a meeting facility within a suggested location. AGU staff will research facility possibilities. AGU staff can also recommend sites where successful conferences have been held, including AGU Headquarters. Chapman Conferences organized outside North America requires the transfer of many AGU staff responsibilities to a local committee and/or the Conveners. For such conferences, it is imperative that there be a local committee or person. This person is usually a member of the Program Committee.
Chapman Conferences are a self-supporting program of the American Geophysical Union. It is recommended to identify potential financial sponsors for these conferences, especially to support conference participants. Depending on the time and location of the conference, different levels of financial support are appropriate. The American Geophysical Union is the principal sponsor of Chapman Conferences. Other societies, institutions, and organizations that are acceptable to AGU can participate as cosponsors. Cosponsorship is a natural way to recognize and to promote interdisciplinary approaches to a problem and cross-disciplinary participation in the conference. Anticipated cosponsors should normally be known at the time the Chapman Conference proposal is submitted.
For conferences held outside the U.S., a local geophysical or equivalent organization should be asked to consider sponsorship to avoid the appearance of unilateral action on another’s turf. This sponsorship does not have to be in the form of financial assistance.
AGU takes full responsibility for conference finances. If for special reasons AGU is not going to manage the finances, a budget on how money is to be obtained and spent is required with the proposal. It should detail who is responsible for deficits or excesses, how the conference fees will be set, and who will submit a financial statement to AGU at the conclusion of the conference.
Generally, such cases apply when a conference is held outside North America. Usually, the host institution or some other local geophysical institution will handle logistics for the conference and therefore control the finances. In such cases, the host institution is generally asked to accept financial responsibility for the conference, relieving individuals such as the Conveners of this responsibility. AGU staff will prepare a letter of agreement for these cases.
Establish a scientific plan for the conference. Include a list of identified speakers and determine their willingness to participate. Establish the daily themes for presentations, discussions, posters, panels and (where appropriate) field trips. Since many Chapman Conferences benefit from locations where distractions are minimal, both morning and afternoon sessions with evenings free, and morning and evening sessions with afternoons free have proven to be successful. There should always be some free time allowed for informal gatherings and discussions. Having sessions from the early morning to the end of day is sometimes counterproductive. The Conveners have ultimate responsibility for the scientific program.
The Conveners should now be ready to submit the Chapman Conference proposal to AGU. The Chapman Conference Chairman will gather external scientific reviews of the proposal to establish its scientific viability. The Chairman will evaluate the scientific reviews of the proposal. The Chairman may decline the proposal, approve the proposal or call for a revision of the proposal. Reviewer comments will be passed on to the Conveners by the Chairman. AGU staff will contact the proposed site, establish a preliminary conference budget and determine the financial viability of the conference. AGU staff may decline the proposal, approve the proposal or call for a revision of the proposal. AGU staff will work with the Conveners to establish a financially responsible conference at a suitable location and time.
The Conveners responsibilities for an approved Chapman Conference include:
Approved conference proposals should be submitted to appropriate funding agencies for financial support. It is recommended that this be handled through the AGU. For special circumstances, AGU will allow the Conveners to handle proposals directly with agencies. The Conveners should work with the AGU and the agency to assure that all necessary details for submission have been completed.
The Conveners will assist in the preparation of announcements and preconference publicity to be published in Eos and other appropriate journals, magazines, or the AGU Home Page on the World Wide Web. AGU staff prepares final copy for publicity pieces. The Conveners may provide AGU with a select mailing list of potential participants. Registration and housing information is sent to all who contribute to the conference program or express an interest in attending.
AGU receives the abstracts and forwards copies to the Conveners. The Conveners and Program Committee arrange the program and provide the program copy to AGU. Abstracts or extended abstracts are published in a program distributed at the conference. The program is for attendees only and is not given or sold to others. The program, with abstracts, is also put on the AGU Web Site.
It is often advantageous to have poster sessions at Chapman Conferences. Some results can be presented more effectively and efficiently with posters. Posters allow more variety in types of graphic displays: charts, schematics, maps, photographs, and computer outputs. Poster presentations also give participants the opportunity for detailed discussions with colleagues with the technical materials conveniently displayed. By mixing regular sessions with poster sessions, authors have more time to exchange ideas and results. Having poster sessions at a site in a remote location can be very costly. This can be determined when AGU staff puts together a preliminary conference budget.
The information presented at some Chapman Conferences lends itself to publication. In other instances, the discussions and science are not yet ready to become part of a more formal information record. The conference convener should consider carefully the question of publication. All publication proposals are subject to review by the appropriate publication board or editor. AGU must refuse to publish a product before the Conveners can go to a non-AGU product/publisher.
AGU staff will assumes responsibility for contracting all services required for the conference. AGU staff contracts with the facility and arranges for any necessary deposits, provides for food and beverage service, audio-visual equipment and transportation. AGU staff has ultimate responsibility for all services required for the conference including setting registration fees. The Conveners should not prearrange facility contracts or other services required for the conference. AGU staff and the Conveners will work together to produce highly successful conferences. This is a team effort.