The art of organizing a successful academic conference – by André Broome
Pubblicato su EE, Elgar Blog
Academic conferences provide an invaluable channel for scholars to exchange ideas and research, as well as an important forum for discussing the possibilities for future collaboration across researchers from different universities and countries. Dr André Broome from the University of Warwick offers tips on how academics can organize successful conference events that showcase new intellectual frontiers rather than rehashing tired doctrines.
In the past decade I have had the privilege of collaborating with numerous colleagues and graduate students to organize over ten academic conferences. These have included both large and small conferences, and events that were well-funded and those that were run on a shoestring budget. Most recently, together with an entrepreneurial group of colleagues at the University of Warwick – James Brassett, Juanita Elias, Lena Rethel, and Ben Richardson – I organized the Warwick 50th Anniversary Conference on New Directions in International Political Economy in May 2015, which was supported by Edward Elgar Publishing.
The event brought together some 130 scholars from more than 20 countries around the world to discuss the state-of-the-art and the future direction of the study of the global political economy. Large academic conferences offer participants the chance to interact with scholars who they would not otherwise get the opportunity to meet. While conference organization can be a challenging and time-consuming endeavour for academics who are increasingly pressed on all fronts to deliver more, better, faster, and cheaper in their research and teaching, some basic tips – plus a healthy dose of common sense – can help ensure a successful and rewarding event.
A dedicated conference budget, and careful management and monitoring of the budget, is essential. In addition to the obvious need to ensure sufficient funding for running a large event, the key to a successful academic conference lies in getting the basics right in three main areas: (1) planning; (2) professionalism; and (3) purpose. These ‘three Ps’ are critical for a well-run event that organizers, their university, and conference delegates will gain the most from.