Reimagining Academic Conferences: Toward a Federated Model of Conferencing
Management Learning, Forthcoming
13 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2021 Last revised: 4 Jun 2021
Date Written: June 3, 2021
What should the post-COVID conference look like? In our attempt to answer this question, we first describe the primary functions and affordances of conferences. Our frank appraisal reveals the breadth of reasons why academics attend conferences, and how conference attendance often blends personal and professional motivations. We also elaborate some of the shortcomings of in-person conferences, spanning personal, professional and societal concerns. Recent alternative (virtual) formats for convening scholars provide means for alleviating some of these shortcomings, but do not seem entirely up to the task of providing a fully satisfactory solution to all that conferencing can be. Moreover, we extrapolate from prior history and ongoing trends to predict that technological solutionism to conferencing is likely to unleash both positive and negative dynamics, some of which will exacerbate current ills in our profession. We then sketch out a values-based approach that can serve as a basis for reimagining academic conferences. This vision promotes a federated model of conferencing, grounded in principles of inclusion, diversity, community and environmental stewardship.
Keywords: academic conferences, academic travel, climate change, information and communication technology, online collaboration
JEL Classification: M10, M14, L84
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation