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Conference session formats

Following feedback from conference delegates and Research Groups, the conference organisers and the Participatory Geographies Research Group (PyGyRG) have developed a short series of guides to support convenors in planning their session format and structure, including a range of simple ways to make sessions more engaged and interactive. 

Session organisers are not limited to the suggestions described below when proposing their session for conference, but the suggested alternative session formats are designed to:

  • Encourage a wide range of contributions and the active involvement of a wide range of people
  • Address the heightened importance of impact and engagement, including the place of research in society
  • Be suitable for range of outputs and follow-up activitities, from book and journal publications to blogs and practitioner interventions

All session organisers are encouraged to explore these options and/or develop their own, in discussion with the RGS-IBG and their Research Groups. Support is available from both the RGS-IBG and PyGyRG, so if you are interested in developing any of these ideas please contact ac2018@rgs.org ahead of the session proposal deadline of Friday 16 February 2018

Papers session

Hints and tips for planning a session of conference papers, ranging from a keynote presentation to 15-minute research papers and 5-minute interactive short papers:

Panel session

Suggested formats and tips for session chairs about organising and facilitating a panel discussion session:

Split session

Advice on preparing a session occupying two timeslots, combining a more traditional papers session with a second session of an interactive format (for example World Cafe, roundtable, etc.):

World Cafe

Advice and tips for organising a session that mimics a cafe environment, encouraging sustained discussion and conversation between participants across a range of topics:


Recommendations for a session format that encourages audience participation from the outset, focusing on a central theme or topic, with either expert-led or audience-led discussion:

Work in Progress

Advice and hints for a session format that allows participants to workshop a piece of work in progress with small groups of session participants, working towards the completion of the work, especially if there is a question or challenge to address:

'Speed dating': research match-making

Suggestions for an innovative and fun session in which participants discuss a challenge, question or topic 1:1 with a new partner every five minutes, before encouraging more in-depth discussion in small groups or in a roundtable format:

Collaborative sessions

Hints and tips for session organisers interested in working with non-academic contributors:

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