Creating a program for a conference is one of the best jobs. At least I think so. This is my 4th MARAC program committee and the 2nd I’ve lead as co-chair and each one has been different. For years MARAC PC members were the program drivers: we came up with session ideas, and identified and invited speakers. We’re moving away from that model. We are asking for session proposals and these proposals now drive the program; however, as Geof Huth, PC co-chair for Rochester, said while we were planning the program for that meeting, MARAC members have yet to take ownership of their conference.
MARAC’s Meetings Coordinating Committee appointed an ad hoc committee to study conference participation and programing development. From the ad hoc committee, and recently adopted by Steering, comes the requirement at that all future PCs will put out a call for proposals. This is great – although most past PCs have been doing this. NEA also puts out a call and then the committee fills the gaps. For Boston we put out a call, had a nifty Google form for submissions (thanks to Susan Kline, PC co-chair for Rochester!), and, created a listserv so that NEA & MARAC would have a forum to discuss ideas. Some of the submissions were fully formed — interesting topic, speakers identified — but some, well most, needed work.
So, how to craft a session proposal? I’m not sure I have answers, but if you’re interested in presenting at a future conference, join us on Saturday for the Lunchtime Discussion on Crafting a Session Proposal. We’ll have an informal discussion and on hand will be past, present, and future NEA & MARAC Program Committee chairs.
“Officials Discuss,” Photo by Einar G. Chindmark, May 13, 1955. Hartford Times Collection, Hartford History Center, Hartford Public Library