Dear ESEH Members,
Society for Environmental History (ESEH) invites expressions of interest from scholars who would like to host the biennial conference of the Society in 2023. Past organisers have found hosting the conference a rewarding experience that raises the profile of their institutions and helps to develop new relationships and professional skills. Organising a conference in a (post-)pandemic world is a challenge but the ESEH team is available to support you. We need your ideas and creativity to be able to continue the series of memorable ESEH highlights!
As with all the previous ESEH conferences, the host institutions will have the task to organise the conference and will work closely with the program committee and the ESEH board to design it. The letter of intent and the added accompanying materials indicate to the Site Selection Committee (and ultimately the ESEH Board) a serious desire to host the conference.
Crucial points for the evaluation will be:
• The strength of your local group;
• The vision of your conference in a (post-)pandemic world;
• The possibility and probability of gaining additional funds;
• The availability and quality of facilities and services;
• The impact of the conference on your country and the wider region.
The letter of intent should be no more than 5000 words long.
The deadline for the submission of bids is 31 January 2021.
The ESEH Site Selection Committee 2019-2021 Ulrike Plath, Tallinn University, Estonia (chair) Andrea Gaynor, The University of Western Australia, Australia Elisabetta Novello, University of Padua, Italy
Guidelines for a Letter of Intent
The Letter of Intent should address these points:
1. Proposed dates
The challenge of finding the right date may include the need to consider the availability of local accommodation, avoiding major holidays, and overlapping with large conferences at international level as well as other major events at your home institution. The ESEH Board has indicated a preference for June, late August or early September, but other dates may be possible.
2. Form, theme, and general vision of your conference
In a (post-)pandemic world we need new, creative ways of organising conferences. What kind of conference are you planning (face-to-face, half digital, fully digital conference) and how flexible are you to react to new developments? ESEH meetings have traditionally had a conference theme, although presentations outside that theme have also been welcome. Identify a theme you think would best suit your institution and location. How do you envisage running the conference in terms of sustainability, innovation, experimentation and diversity, creating inclusive and participatory environments? How will you include attention to teaching as well as
3. Local Organising Committee (LOC)
Who are the people that will form your core group of organisers? What is your profile and what are the strengths of your group? What experience do you have in organising international meetings? How do you intend to share work and responsibility? How would you include other individuals and groups from your country working in the field of environmental history?
4. Support and communication
While organising an ESEH conference you will need help. How would your university/institution support the LOC? Do you have a local convention bureau or conference office at your service that has experience with organising large international meetings? What exactly does it offer (communication, registration, travel arrangements, conference web page, payment, digital support etc.)? We recommend that you contact colleagues at your university who recently have organised large (face-to-face and/or digital) conferences and other partners before compiling the bid. Support letters should be provided as accompanying materials. While organising the conference you will have to communicate with past ESEH LOC members, the head of the programme committee and the board. If you need support with financial transactions, please contact the ESEH treasurer.
5. Location, accommodation, facilities
Identify what the locations of a face-to-face ESEH2023 will be. If it is going to be held on university campus, identify facilities and costs involved. Also investigate local hotels and low budget accommodation possibilities, check their convention facilities (prices, availability) and their policies on minimum room reservations. As a guide, ESEH conferences have recently included the following activities requiring venues: *10-12 parallel sessions *1-3 plenary sessions *coffee breaks and lunches *a poster session (c 20-30 posters on display for the whole event) *opening and closing reception *ESEH General Assembly *Education Fair *1-5 rooms for board meetings *other side events If you are going for a fully digital conference, what software/apps are you going to use? Do you/does your institution have experience with them and any support services?
6. Technical equipment and support
Technical solutions are crucial in organising a digital conference. Is your institution/university well equipped for that? Will you cooperate with some other organisations/institutions? Even if we meet again face-to-face in 2023, the technical equipment and know-how will be important. What kind of technical support can you offer (WIFI/stable skype connection/laptops or PC in all rooms/conference app etc)? Will you allow virtual presentations, and if so, to what extent (half digital conference)? How interactive is your conference? Do you want to have a Twitter conference?
If past meetings are any guide, the LOC is also responsible for raising a substantial amount of funding. This, however, depends on what kind of conference you envision (digital or face-to-face). How and from whom will you obtain funding to support the conference? How will you support participants with limited or no funds? For face-to-face conferences please also include information about visa requirements. Budget estimates should be provided as accompanying materials.
8. Students, partners, NEXTGATE
Whatever form your conference will have in the end, you will need motivated volunteers and helping hands. What are your plans to promote the conference among your students and make them involved? How will you communicate with other local and international partners you want to work with (local producers, artists, etc)? How will you interact with NEXTGATE?
9. Conference tours and promotion
At previous face-to-face conferences the LOC has typically offered tours or field trips to show off the local nature and/or environmental history sites, whether museums, civil engineering works, nature parks, or other sites. In the past, at least a half day of the meeting has been dedicated to tours. Enough tour spaces to accommodate c. 60-100 people (1/5 of the participants) should be planned. In planning an e-conference you might have specific plans how to promote your region/country/institution digitally and to get financial support for that. Elaborate on that!
10. Impact of the conference
What impact might organising the ESEH2023 have on your institution/country/region? How will the conference foster environmental history in your country? Do you have a plan to enlarge the membership of the ESEH in connection with the conference? Does it make a difference for you if the conference is a face-to-face or a fully digital one – or something in between?
11. COVID-19 and other risks
What are your strategies for hosting a conference in a (post-)pandemic world? We invite you to state in the proposal how you face the uncertainties of our time and minimise the risks large conferences might still bear in 2023. Is your team flexible to shift from a face-to-face meeting to a fully digital conference (or vice versa) according to the developments and circumstances? What kind of other risks do you foresee and what might you do to minimise them?
Don’t worry too much: The ESEH deeply appreciates your willingness to host the conference. In organising it you will join a select community of people who can offer support and advice all along the way!
Accompanying Materials to be provided with the Letter of Intent
One factor in deciding where to locate a meeting is the probable costs for participants. Providing some rough estimates of travel costs from major cities, your policy concerning participation fees, and a preliminary specification of costs (costs of meeting facilities, audiovisual equipment, conference app, banquet location etc) would be helpful. Please explain how much extra funding you need and how you are going to raise that.
We ask you to add support letters from your local conference office, partner organisations, co-hosts etc. This helps us to identify how serious your plans are and how strong your support network is. In the end, it will help you to rationalise your work.