Breaking News: Crafting the Annual Meeting

SfAA Meeting Working Group

(Michael Paolisso, Neil Hann, Trish Colvin, Don Stull, Melissa Cope, Kira Collins, Rey Villanueva, Jeremy Trombley, Rebecca Long, Judith Freidenberg, and Mark Edberg)

In May the SfAA board supported the creation of a working group to review the potential of multiple meeting formats for the Society. The shift to do more online is both a challenge and an opportunity for the SfAA to advance the contributions of the applied social sciences and to better support and serve our members. The Meeting Working Group includes SfAA staff and members who are practitioners, academics, and students. The working group’s charge is to present information and recommendations to the executive committee, board and members to support actions that strengthen the SfAA mission, programming and financial health. 

Over the past two months the working group has been reviewing and discussing options for converting the upcoming 2021 annual meeting from an onsite-only meeting to a hybrid meeting that includes both onsite and online events. In undertaking its work, the working group received feedback from the board, interviewed members, reviewed meeting platforms of other professional organizations, and read best-practices literature for hosting conferences online. The working group reviewed the costs and capabilities of widely available software for hosting online meetings, discussed different combinations of online events that provide participants with synchronous and asynchronous information in different forms (e.g., panels, roundtables, plenaries, posters, organized and spontaneous networking such as hallways, “coffee meetings,” and Q&A sessions), and considered the costs and staffing requirements of implementing different hybrid options at different scales.

As we go forward in planning for the 2021 meeting, we will be collecting more input through a member survey and expanded conversations with key groups including the Norfolk program committee and topical interest groups to name some. In short, we aim to develop a model that is flexible to meet members’ needs, offers new exciting content and participation formats, and delivers a valuable experience in all participation formats. Updates on the meeting development will be coming in future newsletters, emails and social media communication.  We look forward to getting your feedback and creating a terrific SfAA meeting for 2021! 

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