Call for Special Session Proposals

JF Donner Summit

99th ESA Annual Meeting
Sacramento, California
August 10 – 15, 2014

Deadline: 5:00 PM Eastern (2:00 PM Pacific)
Thursday, November 21, 2013

Any proposals sent by email or after the deadline will NOT be considered.

All ESA Annual Meeting proposal and abstract deadlines are 5:00 PM Eastern so that technical support and ESA staff assistance will be immediately available when submitters need it. If you begin your submission very close to the deadline, you are choosing to take a risk and we will NOT make an exception if you don’t complete your submission in time. The form automatically closes at 5:00 EST / 2:00 PST whether you have completed your submission or not.

About Special Sessions

We invite proposals for special sessions for the 99th ESA Annual Meeting. The meeting will be held August 10 – 15, 2014 in Sacramento, California at the Sacramento Convention Center.

Special Sessions complement the formal scientific program, providing an opportunity for presentations or extended dialogue and exchanges beyond what is usually possible in the regular scientific sessions. These sessions are not intended for the presentation of formal research papers, and they do not run concurrently with the symposium, organized oral, contributed oral, or poster sessions.

Special sessions do not conform to any single structure. They may, for example, involve one presenter, a series of lectures or a panel; a film, video or illustrated lecture; a discussion; or some combination of these. The Program Chair has the option of scheduling Special Sessions either on Monday morning after the Opening Scientific Plenary (10:15 – 11:30; 75 min), or as an evening session (8 – 10 pm; 2 hours) Monday through Wednesday. Evening sessions must end by 10 pm since this is when the convention center will close. To assist in assignment of a meeting room, you must indicate the expected minimum and maximum attendance. Special sessions may involve a ticket for a drink or refreshments for the participants, and it is important to include that in your proposal. The program committee will take the proposed day and time into consideration during session scheduling but is unable to honor all scheduling requests. Accepted sessions will be scheduled to minimize topic overlap and as meeting space and logistics allow. Scheduling information will be sent to organizers in February.

NOTE: If refreshments are served, attendees will be required to pay a fee to attend the session in order to cover the cost of refreshments unless the costs of these are covered by underwriting.

Click here to see an example of a special session from a recent conference. To see other examples, please browse the online program from the 2013 Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Evaluation Process and Criteria

Proposals for Special Sessions are reviewed and selected by the Program Chair in consultation with peers s/he may invite to assess proposals. Proposals may be from any area of science related to ecology, but those that pertain to the overall theme, “From Oceans to Mountains: It’s All Ecology,” are especially encouraged. We also welcome proposals that explore connections with the social or natural sciences, or that are directed to ecological education at any level. The primary criteria for acceptance include scientific merit, probable interest by meeting attendees, and a clearly written and compelling description. Limits of space and time may make it impossible to accommodate all worthy submissions. The Program Chair has final authority for acceptance and scheduling for any proposed special session.

Session and presentation rules

Note that the One Presentation Rule does not apply to workshops and special sessions. Organizers, leaders and participants in workshops and special sessions are not precluded from also being the presenting author or coauthor of a poster or contributed oral, organized oral, or symposium talk. They may also organize a special session or a second workshop. To promote diversity of sessions and topics, no person will be permitted to organize more than two workshops and/or special sessions at the 2014 Annual Meeting.

Session fees, equipment, and registration

An important note regarding funds: Acceptance of your proposal does not obligate ESA beyond assuring you of a meeting space and inclusion in the printed program. We stress especially that no ESA funds are available for honoraria, refreshments, special A/V needs, internet access, or travel expenses for special session participants. Further, meeting registration is not waived. ESA will not reimburse session organizers for expenses. Anyone participating in any capacity in a special session must be registered for at least one day. Organizers are responsible for making these facts clear to persons they invite to participate.

If Your Proposal Is Accepted

All submitters will be notified of acceptance decisions by January 16, 2014. Further instructions on next steps for preparing the session for the online program in the spring will be provided then.

Cancellation Policy

Once a special session has been accepted and listed online, cancellation imposes a serious burden. Do not submit a proposal if you are uncertain that you will be able to fulfill your obligation to organize and conduct the session. Once a special session is accepted by the Program Chair, cancellation by the session organizers will preclude the organizers from being allowed to submit any proposals for special sessions for the 2015 ESA Annual Meeting.

Important Dates

November 21, 2013Deadline for submitting a proposal to ESA.
January 16, 2013Notification of acceptance sent to organizer.
February 13, 2014Notification of scheduling (session date and time) sent to organizer.

To Submit

Proposal Format

Please note that the information listed below must be entered on the website proposal submission form. It is provided here only to assist you in planning your submission. The website format may differ slightly from the format listed here. All information requested must be submitted.

 Components of a Special Session Proposal

  • Title of the session
  • Description of the session (250 words max.)
  • Summary sentence (50 word max.)
  • Names and contact information for the lead organizer, a secondary contact and any co-organizers
  • Expected minimum and maximum number of participants
  • Proposed starting and ending times:
    10:15 – 11:30 AM (Monday only) or 8 – 10 PM (Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday)
  • Preference of day for this session:
    Monday, August 11 – Wednesday, August 13
  • Anticipated equipment needs: screen, LCD projector, dedicated laptop computer, slide projector, overhead projector, flip charts, VCR and monitor, Internet connection (note that provision of an internet connection cannot be guaranteed and incurs additional fees)
  • Room set-up desired: theater, conference, hollow square, rounds, other. In order to give priority to paper sessions, it is unlikely we will be able to provide room setups other than theater style for the Monday morning (10:15 – 11:30 AM) special session time slot. The evening time slots are typically more flexible in regard to room setup options.
  • If applicable, underwriting of special session costs by a group or agency. Include name and amount to be contributed.
  • Is the session intended to follow a symposium or organized oral session? If so, which one?
  • Is the session linked to a business meeting or mixer of any ESA Section, Chapter, or other group? If so, which one?

You MUST submit your proposal using the website proposal submission form. You will be notified electronically concerning receipt, review, and acceptance of your proposal, using the return e-mail address that you provide. The notice of receipt will include a reference number that you will need to retain. If the return email address is incorrect, you will not be notified. If you do not hear from the Program Chair or the Program Coordinator regarding receipt of your proposal by December 5, 2013, please contact Jennifer Riem to confirm that your proposal was received. You may view your proposal by accessing the website and entering your proposal number. The website and proposal number will be provided to you when we acknowledge receipt of your proposal.

A list of accepted special sessions will be available on the ESA website when registration opens (typically late April). The organizer should check for the exact time and location of her/his session. Special sessions are typically open to all meeting attendees (unless ticketed to cover costs such as beverages or food), and therefore organizers will not receive a roster of participants in advance. As a courtesy, organizers should plan to notify all speakers/scheduled participants of the date, time, and place of the session once the information is available.

Link To Submission Form


Dr. Hal Balbach
US Army Corps of Engineers
PO Box 9005 Champaign, IL 61826-9005
Phone: 217-373-6785

Jennifer Riem
Program Coordinator
Ecological Society of America
1990 M Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036 USA
Phone: (202) 833-8773 x 218