What is an innovative session?

The Program Committee supports innovative formats that will encourage bold thinking, lively dialogue, and audience involvement. We urge session organizers to explore ways in which ideas can be communicated most effectively and ways in which the audience can contribute to the liveliness of the dialogue.  We encourage a variety of presentation formats.  The following list of potential formats for the panel illustrates a range of styles, but is not meant to confine your options:

  • Formats that highlight through their structure a clash of perspectives, interpretations, or methodologies.
  • Formats that involve a number of mini-presentations (5-10 minutes) around a single theme (organizers of such panels should choose the roundtable format; the application allows a maximum five presenters to be listed in the program, though more participants could be included).
  • Formats involving the discussion of primary sources.
  • Formats in which commentators begin by summarizing and commenting on the papers and the paper-givers then respond.
  • Panels in which participants present one another’s work rather than their own.
  • Workshop-style sessions on works-in-progress.
  • Formats that allow sharply focused commentary from the audience at an early point in the panel.
  • Formats in which a single, major paper, film, or book is the subject of attention. The commentary and other papers would focus on the work in question.
  • Roundtables that examine teaching in the field or that explore innovative approaches to teaching a particular subject.
  • Formats involving a performance, presentation, or reading of a creative work followed by a discussion.
  • Formats that involve pre-circulating papers available to all attendees. In these panels members of the audience would be expected to have read the papers in advance and presenters would give only brief introductory remarks (for example, five minutes) before comments and discussion.

Session organizers suggesting innovative formats should check the appropriate box on the application form and make a case for the innovative character of the panel’s format in their proposals. If you are submitting an innovative format that includes paper presentations, select the Organized Panel proposal type.  If your innovative format does not include papers, select the Roundtable proposal type.  Select “Yes” on the application to the question “Would you like this proposal to be considered an Innovative Panel proposal?”  Be sure to indicate what makes your roundtable or workshop innovative in your proposal (that is, indicate why these panels go beyond the usual expectations of a roundtable or a workshop). Organized Panels proposing the use of pre-circulating papers should clearly indicate this format in the proposal (please use the words “pre-circulating papers” at some point).

Organizers of sessions with innovative formats need to keep in regular communication with participants about the special expectations of their panels (in terms of time limits, papers circulated among participants well in advance, presentation form, etc.).

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