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This idea comes from Alison Phipps, who implemented it once in 2002 for postgrads in the faculty of Arts here. I heard her talk about it at the 2003 TLS conference.
The basic idea is, as a professional development exercise for postgraduate (PhD) students,
to give them a budget and have them create and run a whole conference.
Big success (they say):
(See also next year's conference.)
They called it a "conference", others (in other disciplines) might have called it a "workshop". (After all, some academic conferences have thousands of participants and a budget of millions of pounds / dollars / euros.) Basically 3 days, 20 presentations, 55 participants.
Duration of conference (3 days?) 3 days
Number of delegates at the conference; began with 30 rose to about 50-60 as "word spread"
Speakers: 19 talks by postgrads from here, plus a talk by invited speakers.
Fees charged to delegates. £10/25
Size of conference subsidy: ?2000
Typically each committee member had already attended one or two such conferences before.
600 (about) postgraduate students in the
Graduate School for Arts and Humanities at the time (according to
7 of these were on the conference organising committee
18 Arts faculty postgraduates gave presentations at the conference.
X Arts faculty postgraduates attended the conference
Y others also attended the conference
So would it be good for postgrads in other areas?
The first reason might not apply, but the other two would. Furthermore, it may be that it would be a valuable antidote for postgrads in disciplines where they get all too much advice, attention, being told what to do. Running a conference forces you to think about how to get value out of research meetings, rather than giving talks to formats because other people tell you that's what you have to do, rather than because you have thought about what is actually valuable.
Would it be good for the conference itself? Probably. The usual thing for conferences is that they are run by old timers in the field. Tradition gets transmittted, with too little reconsidering from first principles, too little originality, too little checking that it serves core academic needs for all attenders -- not just the old timers and their social network.
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