[PCST] What makes a PCST conference unmissable?

Carlyn S Buckler csb36 at cornell.edu
Tue Mar 29 14:09:26 CEST 2011

        I would very much like to see more voices at the table for the PCST conferences.  Three points in particular, reflecting some of what Martin said;  the costs of conferences, access to proceedings, and conference/travel organization.
Any conference that, with registration, travel, subsistence and hotel, costs well into four figures ($2500 – $5000 for many participants) makes the conference feasible only for those who are very well funded – certainly just a very small fraction of those who could significantly benefit from, or be making significant contributions to, the discussion of science communication. Air travel, however, in general costs a great deal.  Financial assistance for the conference is certainly helpful, but this is not always feasible, or the assistance is not enough to make a difference. Many conferences give significant discounts to graduate students, as well as providing conference fees to presenters – this precludes, however, that the funding is available for such assistance.
Supporting all countries that should be at the table during these discussions is very important; however, when deciding host cities, political and financial concerns must be considered; e.g. men and women traveling alone should feel relatively safe in the host city – one should be able to contact the embassy and find that traveling alone to, from  and in the host city is relatively safe; arrangements for reasonably priced hotels, and transportation to and from the airport, hotel, and conference facility, should be clear and pre–organized well in advance of the conference, when attendees need to make plans;  a major international airport close to the conference site and/or quality public transportation to/from the airport and conference reduce costs significantly, etc.
Given the fact that the carbon footprint – and the costs – for many attending conferences is astronomical, and that many of us as communicators of science to the public are trying to reduce our carbon footprint, perhaps putting many or all of the sessions online via webinar would be beneficial.  This would address the issues of cost, participation and availability of proceedings.  A significant reduction in the costs of registration for online participants would allow a much larger audience,  while not taxing the revenue required to cover conference costs, bring more exposure to the organization and its products, reduce the carbon footprint, and also provide a digital record of some (or all) of the conference proceedings.  This could truly make the conference most 'unmissable'.

Thank you -

Carlyn S. Buckler, Ph.D.

Education and Outreach Associate
Paleontological Research Institution
and its Museum of the Earth
Adj. Asst. Professor of Earth Sciences
State University New York, Oneonta
1259 Trumansburg Road, Ithaca, NY 14850

Ph: (607) 273-6623 ext. 25
csb36 at cornell.edu<mailto:csb36 at cornell.edu>

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