Online or face-to-face? Opinion piece in Times Higher Education
Geert Somsen, “Why Gather? Reflections on the History and Future of Scientific Conferences”: Talk at the Science History Institute
In a recent talk at the Science History Institute, Philadelphia, Geert Somsen discussed the future of international scientific conferences by drawing on their history. Why did scientists suddenly start to meet, en masse and at regular intervals, after centuries without such gatherings? What did they do at conferences and how did they shape their sense of disciplinary and international community? The necessity of conferences has been questioned in connection with the Covid pandemic and because of their environmental footprint. But they have often been queried also in the past when scientists have regularly considered and tried alternative forms of communication.
Watch the talk at the original event page:
Or on YouTube:
Conference Around the Clock: Podcast Performance
Friday, 18 November, 6-8pm
Birkbeck’s Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD
Listen to the podcast here
Have you ever wondered why so many people are going to conferences as part of their work and sometimes leisure? In this performance, a group of historians and artists have teamed up to shed light on what actually happens at international conferences.
The audio performance takes the form of four short audio features, using interviews, musical composition and sounds to invoke an international scientific conference. The audience can immerse itself in the sounds and feelings of a conference. If you have never been to one before, this will demystify the ‘conference phenomenon’. If you are a seasoned conference goers, you can reflect on your own conference experiences. The performance will be followed by a discussion and drinks.
Calling all conference goers!
The HERA-sponsored project The Scientific Conference: a Social, Cultural, and Political History is collecting accounts of conferences that have played a formative role in individuals’ careers. We feel it is crucial to supplement our analytical framework with real stories, anecdotes and experiences that can help us to understand why and how conferences have played a significant role in so many academic fields.
Please get in touch with us if you can contribute a short account of a conference you have attended that stands out in your memory. We’d love to read anything about it that you remember: the setting; the atmosphere, the travel, the professional significance of any particular papers or performances, any significant or unusual encounters, off-conference events or activities, any longer-term interactions or discussions that were sparked by the conference. Your response can be as short as a few lines or a paragraph, or several pages long – we’ll be happy with anything you can send us.
Please email email@example.com with any questions or to submit your account. Eventually we would like to publish a selection of these stories on our blog, but would of course not publish anything without your permission.