Each year at the General Assembly, the conference features a limited number of Union Symposia (US) and Great Debates (GDB), which can be proposed by anyone in the scientific community. These high-profile, union-wide events are intended to be cutting-edge, current, and of interest to a broad range of the Earth, planetary and space sciences. The deadline to submit your proposal is fast approaching (15 August 2019), so here’s a quick overview of what these special sessions involve and what to consider when proposing session ideas.
Union Symposia (US)
A US session is organised as a lecture series focusing on an important theme, topic, question or event. Past sessions have covered topics on how scientists can stand up for science and promoting/supporting equality in the geosciences to the 250th anniversary of Alexander von Humboldt and the International Year of Soil.
A US consists of two time blocks separated by a break. Each time block has three lectures of 30 minutes each (so the US has a total of six lectures). In addition, each time block can have 15 minutes for introduction or discussion.
Great Debates (GDB)
The format of a GDB session is typically a panel discussion lasting 1 hour and 45 minutes featuring 3-5 panel members and a moderator. The aim of the session is to delve into a particular question or debate topic relevant to the geosciences in a lively, interactive and entertaining way. Past debates have facilitated discussions on many different timely themes, including Plan S and Open Science, early career scientist mental wellbeing, low-risk geo-engineering, and the role of scientists in policy.
Proposing a US or GDB
Submitting a proposal for a US or GDB involves many of the same steps you would need to take when submitting a session to other programme groups, however there are some additional guidelines and important notes to keep in mind:
1) The EGU strongly encourages diversity in career stage, gender, and country of work or origin for US and GDB speakers and conveners.
2) The EGU recommends a maximum of three (co-)convenerships at its General Assembly. One additional (co-)convenership for US and GDB is allowed (i.e. a maximum of four).
3) Proposals of US and GBD need to include the following extra information in the proposal form (this information is confidential to the programme committee):
- a justification of the union-wide character of the proposed session;
- a list of preliminary speakers;
- an indication of whether the proposal should be included in another programme group as a regular session if the proposal is turned down for US or GBD.
- whether the proposers have a contact person in the programme committee or the EGU office.
4) Speakers in Union Symposia (US) are solicited. They need to submit an abstract using a password provided by the US convener by the abstract deadline of the General Assembly.
5) As a guideline, US and GDB speakers, conveners, and moderators do not receive discounted abstract processing charges, registration fees, or travel reimbursement.
6) Limited financial support is, however, available in special cases. The EGU will consider support requests for speakers (up to 2) who bring something extra to our participants, who are not space or geoscientists, who would otherwise not attend the EGU’s General Assembly, and who do not have funds to cover their expenses.
7) Financial support requests are subject to approval by the treasurer, executive secretary, and programme committee chair and form part of the evaluation of US and GDB proposals. We consider requests for day-pass registration and support for accommodation and/or travel. As a guideline, travel support should not exceed €350 for travel within Europe and €1,000 from outside Europe, respectively. Accommodation should not exceed €120 per night, and up to 2 nights can be granted if justifiable.
Each submitted proposal is evaluated by the EGU’s Programme Committee before the deadline of the general call-for-sessions. Rejected proposals can then be considered for resubmission as a regular session.
Wondering whether your session would fit as a US or GDB? Just ask Programme Committee Chair Susanne Buiter (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also find more information about the call for sessions (and the organisation of the scientific programme in general) on the EGU 2020 website.
The EGU’s 2020 General Assembly, takes place in Vienna from 3 to 8 May, 2020. For more news about the upcoming General Assembly, you can also follow the official hashtag, #EGU20, on our social media channels.