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Environmental Affairs Symposium

Organizing a Session

Sessions for our 2014 Environmental Affairs Symposium will be an opportunity for Lewis & Clark students to present and discuss an environmental topic of their choice while building connections with experts in Portland.

Below are some details for session organizers:

Why should I organize a session?

Organizing a session can be done by individual Lewis & Clark students, or by small teams of two or three (who are expected to share the workload equally); teams offer a way for you to participate even if you will not be on campus fall semester. Organizing a session will give you the opportunity to:

  • Research an environmental topic of interest to you. This topic will be on the scale of an ENVS concentration or area of interest; see here for a list of recent student concentrations, which are midway in scale between a specific research topic and a very general environmental theme.
  • Connect with local scholars interested in this topic. The Portland area most likely has students and faculty with topical interests similar to yours. By connecting with these scholars in organizing your session you will complement your connections at Lewis & Clark and start building your professional network.
  • Develop skills in public presentation. Each organizer (or at least one if organized in a team) will present as part of the session. Public presentation skills are invaluable professionally, and essential in selling your ideas to the world.
  • Advance organizational and leadership skills. As detailed below, a typical session involves a number of participants and associated resources, and you are the ones who will bear the responsibility—and receive the credit!—for making it all happen. 

What would a typical session look like?

Sessions in our 2014 Environmental Affairs Symposium will look a bit different from recent Symposium sessions; they are designed to convey the benefits listed above. Here are some important features:

  • Sessions will be 90 minutes in length and include 3-4 scholarly panelists, with at least one Lewis & Clark student and one additional student or faculty member from another regional institution of higher education, or someone with active scholarly credentials from a related regional organization. All panelists should be able to travel to and from LC campus in the same day to minimize expenses, and all should be prepared to do a scholarly presentation.
  • Each panelist will deliver a mini-presentation (10 minutes max) that summarizes the panelist’s research, a course or other project the panelist has done, or a commentary on key literature, research, and/or related questions and debates.
  • The presentations will be followed by roundtable discussion on one to three key general questions, then audience Q&A enhanced by a running Twitter feed. These questions will connect the session topic in some manner with the Anthropocene, the broad “metatheme” of our Symposium.
  • The session organizer(s) will facilitate the session, monitoring presentation time, moderating discussions, etc.
  • To enhance the value of sessions, organizers will prepare an annotated list of related literature, organizations, key scholarly contacts, and other resources and distribute via the Symposium website and other means (e.g., Zotero).
  • Organizers may also propose one or more informal opportunities for discussion before or after the session (e.g., in a class or a dorm setting) as a resource for interested participants.

What’s expected of me and when?

Sessions will be developed following a strict timetable, as they are central to the success of Symposium. All session elements need to be in place by the end of spring semester for planning and promotion. You can expect the following milestones:

  1. By the end of Mon Mar 17, session organizer(s) will have completed initial fields of an official session page for public display: title (3-10 words), summary (100-250 words, including links to online resources), and focus questions (2-4, including one of relevance to the Anthropocene metatheme). This session page will be publicly available and noted in panelist invitations as background. We will provide guidance (see below) on how the public page will be authored. Additionally, organizer(s) will have received co-chair approval for 3-4 session panelists (including 1 to 2 Lewis & Clark and 1 to 2 external panelists), with invitations issued to all panelists to participate following an invitation template (see below) including details on expectations, honoraria (non-L&C panelists), etc.
  2. By the end of Mon Apr 7, session organizer(s) will have confirmed all session panelists, and will have completed the remainder of the official session page, including panelist info (name/affiliation/one sentence bio for each), and annotated bibliography (6-12 refs cited in summary, in Chicago author-date style plus 25-50 word abstract). Note: if you need a slight (1 week) extension for confirming panelists, please ask a co-chair.
  3. By the end of Mon Apr 21, session organizer(s) will have shared with Symposium co-chairs a solid draft of all student presentations (at least one minimum) to be included in the session, to be finalized over the summer.
  4. By the completion of Symposium (the week of Oct 13), session organizer(s) will have successfully managed all session-related logistics, including assistance with promotion, good communication and care of panelists, and session facilitation, in addition to assisting with session-related Symposium events.

What support will I have?

Though you will need to do a great deal of work in organizing your session, our Environmental Affairs Symposium co-chairs will support you through the above process. You’ll meet with them regularly and receive feedback and encouragement. All non-Lewis & Clark session panelists will receive a nominal honorarium for their contribution, which will help support your efforts to enlist their participation.

Given the scholarly nature of session organization, we plan to commit substantial Symposium funds toward supporting session organizers via a research stipend, to be disbursed in increments following attainment of the key milestones above (and equally shared among team members, if more than one).

Can you give me more details on…

  • Authoring the session page? Go to the LC home page, and click Editor Login at bottom to login. Your admin bar at top should say “College: Environmental Studies Symposium.” If necessary, click the Go to Site and/or Dashboard button at top right. Soon you will see Profiles: click it, then Session, then Add a New Profile (you can also edit an existing session profile). Carefully follow all prompts and double check for spelling/grammar goofs. Session info is entered on the timetable noted above. Once your session profile is ready, click the Preview link to see it. Use this link in your panelist invitation email (you can delete the “?preview=1” at end). You’ll need to email Jim Proctor ( for approval, then he can publish it for you.
  • Inviting panelists? Once you have approval for the panelists you wish to invite, use this template here (login with LC email to view) to produce a separate email invitation to each panelist (delete honorarium sentence if sending to LC panelist). Make sure to copy your co-chair liaison(s), Jim Proctor (, and Nate Stoll ( Each portion of the template in red requires that you edit or use it appropriately. For the link to your session summary page, embed the link in the text that says “session summary page”; don’t simply paste the raw URL into the email. Plan to follow up by phone between two and four days after sending the email, even if you don’t hear back.

Environmental Affairs Symposium

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