a call for papers

We invite presentations of all kinds on the theme of “The World in 2050: Creating/Imagining Just Climate Futures” for an online, nearly carbon-neutral conference (described below) that will take place from October 24 to November 14, 2016. Coordinated by UC Santa Barbara, this conference is part of a series of events on “Climate Futures: This Changes Everything.”

The most pressing existential issue of the 21st century for humanity as a whole is the increasingly grim reality of climate change and our entry into a new era in the history of humans and the planet well signified by the Anthropocene. The changing conditions of life on Earth lie at the center of a series of interconnected crises which include, among others, the precarity of the global economy, a widening deficit of political legitimacy, and cultures scarred by violence, from the most intimate interpersonal interactions to the most global realities of war-making.

Unlike either the justifiably pessimistic critical discussions or the unrealistically optimistic policy approaches that increasingly confront (or ignore) each other around the climate crisis, this conference will depart from our present ground zero by adopting perspectives of the multiple possible states of the world in mid-century and work back toward the present in an attempt to imagine, envision, enable, and collaboratively find or create some of the pathways to a far better – or just less worse – outcome for humanity by 2050.

Please note that this will be a nearly carbon-neutral conference. Even a relatively small academic conference can generate the equivalent of 20,000 pounds or more of CO2 (chiefly from travel). To put that number in perspective, this is the total annual carbon footprint of ten people living in India, thirty-three in Kenya. We believe that a conference that takes up the issue of climate change while simultaneously contributing to the problem to such a degree is simply unconscionable.

Consequently, this conference will largely occur online. During the conference, which will take place over three weeks, accepted talks and other events will be available for viewing on the conference website. Q&A will also take place online during this period, as participants and registered attendees will be able to pose questions to speakers via online comments and speakers will be able to reply in the same way. Both the talks and Q&A sessions will remain up on the website as a permanent archive of the event.

A conference using this format was staged at UC Santa Barbara in May of 2016. As that conference’s website contains a complete archive of the event, please visit it if you have questions relating to how this conference will work. In particular, the opening remarks and the accompanying Q&A session help explain the rationale for this approach while also demonstrating it.

While we realize that this will not replicate the face-to-face interaction of a conventional conference talk and Q&A, we believe that it will nonetheless promote lively discussion, as well as help build a community of scholars with intersecting research interests and hopes for the world. An advantage to this approach is that individuals who would not otherwise be able to become involved in the conference owing to distance or financial constraints will be able to fully take part. There will be no registration fee for the conference. Although this online conference will have its own carbon footprint, as data centers and web activity also require energy, we expect that this will be only a small fraction of that of a conventional conference, likely just 1-3%.

Instead of traveling to the conference to attend panels and deliver a talk, speakers agree to do the following:

1) Film yourself giving a talk of 15-17 minutes. The webcams that come with desktop and laptop computers have improved dramatically over the past few years. Aftermarket webcams with noise cancelling microphones, which can be purchased for under $50, can often provide even better quality. It is also the case that most computers have video recording software preinstalled, such as Apple’s QuickTime. Consequently, it is now possible, and relatively easy, to record a talk of surprisingly good quality in your home or office. How easy is it and how good is the quality? A sample talk that explains the concept and process in detail can be found here: http://ehc.english.ucsb.edu/?p=14586.

2) Take part in your online Q&A session by responding to questions raised by your talk. You will automatically receive an email each time a new question is posed. Only registered conference participants (this includes speakers, as well as others who register for the conference) will be posing questions.

3) View as many of the talks as possible, posing questions of your own to speakers. This is especially important, as this is how you will meet and interact with other conference participants. As with any conference, our goal is help establish relationships and to build a community. In this case, since travel has been removed from the equation, our hope is that this community will be diverse and truly global.

Abstracts of 250 words and a brief biographical note of about 150 words should be submitted as one document [Word or pdf, only please] by August 15 and attached in a single e-mail copied to all three of the following e-mail addresses: conference co-organizers John Foran – foran@soc.ucsb.edu and Ken Hiltner – hiltner@english.ucsb.edu, and our conference assistant – EHCfellow@gmail.com We welcome all international submissions if the talks themselves can be either in English or subtitled (see below) in English.  The Q&A will be in English. You should also please confirm that you have viewed the sample video and agree both to the above conference requirements and to allow your filmed talk to be posted to the conference website, as well as our Vimeo, YouTube, and SoundCloud accounts. As noted above, the talks will become part of a permanent conference archive open to the public.

Amara provides free closed captioning software that allows anyone to caption videos. As they note on their website, Amara makes it possible “(and free) to caption and translate your videos…. Amara is built by a nonprofit, 501c3 organization. We are driven by the mission to reduce barriers to communication and foster a more democratic media ecosystem.” Because it does not require a steep learning curve, Amara can generally be quickly learned. Since our goal is to have a conference that is accessible as possible, please consider using Amara to add closed captioning to your talk or have someone (perhaps a student intern or a tech-savvy friend) do it for you. If you will not be able to closed caption your talk, please note this when submitting your abstract.

Abstracts are due by Monday, August 15, 2016.

Participants will be informed whether their submissions have been accepted or not by Monday, August 29, 2016.

Videos of the talks will be due by Monday, October 10, 2016.

The online conference will take place from Monday, October 24 to Monday, November 14, 2016.

Please send any questions to John Foran or Ken Hiltner.

Please be as creative as you like in your proposals – we look forward to seeing them!