Missing Conferences? Academic gatherings in a time of limited mobility

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This online symposium brings the words ‘conferences’ and ‘missing’ together, inviting us to reflect on conferences now.

About this event

This online symposium brings the words ‘conferences’ and ‘missing’ together with an invitation to think about what is happening when conferences are ‘missing’.

2020 has seen the unprecedented cancellation and postponement of academic conferences. Conferences were some of the first activities to be cancelled as COVID-19 spread across international borders. Identified as risky events because they involve large numbers of people and often facilitate long-distance connections, some conferences have already been identified as nodes of transmission.

Other discourses have circulated about the readiness of conference providers to shift their conferences to virtual formats when association members (e.g. those who are disabled, have caring responsibilities) have clamoured for years for more virtual provision.

Uncertainties have also abounded, particularly for precarious and early career academics, who are unable to get refunds on travel arrangements, or who have missed out on crucial job seeking opportunities. Given this scene of uncertainty, there has never been such an important moment to think about conferences.

About the symposium

This 2 hour online symposium is being convened by the AARE Professional and Higher Education SIG. The symposium brings the words ‘conferences’ and ‘missing’ together with an invitation to think about what is happening when conferences as we know them are missing from the higher education scene. The first question that we consider is whether conferences have gone missing at all? Is it possible that the routine work of face-to-face conferences has been distributed across new platforms for gathering academics and disseminating knowledge? What affordances do these new forms of gathering promise? What are their limits?

The second question we consider is this: conferences may be missing, but are we missing conferences? How do we feel as we erase plans from the calendar, cancel tickets and ask for refunds? When conferences go missing do we miss our geographically distant friends and colleagues? And when face-to-face conferences are missing what else are scholars missing out on?

The absence of conferences is an important opportunity to ask what they do for advancing ideas, fields of knowledge and scholars.

Our speakers include:

  • Judith Mair - Conferences: you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone
  • Agnes Bosanquet and Catherine Manathunga – Missing Conference Embodiment
  • Tai Peseta and Catherine Manathunga – Missing Conference Keynotes
  • Omolabake Fakunle – The Impacts of Doctoral Students Missing Conferences
  • Emily Henderson – Care and Missing Conferences

About the presenters

James Burford is a Lecturer in Research Education and Development at La Trobe University.

Judith Mair is an Associate Professor and Discipline Leader of the Tourism Discipline Group in the UQ Business School.

Agnes Bosanquet is an Associate Professor and PVC of Learning and Teaching at Macquarie University.

Catherine Manathunga is a Professor of Education Research at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Tai Peseta is a Senior Lecturer in Learning Transformations at Western Sydney University.

Omolabake Fakunle is a Teaching Fellow in Education at the University of Edinburgh.

Emily Henderson is an Associate Professor in the Centre for Education Studies at Warwick University.

Who should attend?


All queries should be directed to j.burford@latrobe.edu.au

Zoom link - Link will be provided by calendar invite

Getting started with Zoom - http://www.latrobe.edu.au/students/it/software/zoom

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Organiser Research Education and Development (RED)

Organiser of Missing Conferences? Academic gatherings in a time of limited mobility

The Graduate Research School's Research Education and Development (RED) team supports and assists La Trobe graduate researchers and academic staff in:

  • quality research practices
  • strategies for success in research publication and funding
  • insight into researcher career paths and industry sectors
  • practising excellent research communication skills.

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