Call for Special Session Proposals

100th ESA Annual Meeting
Baltimore, Maryland
August 9 – 14, 2015

Deadline: 5:00 PM Eastern (2:00 PM Pacific)
Thursday, November 20, 2014

Proposals that are incomplete or received 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 100th ESA Annual Meeting, “Ecological Science at the Frontier: Celebrating ESA’s Centennial.” 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 appropriate for the presentation of formal research talks and do not include presentation abstracts. Special sessions do not conform to any single structure. They may, for example, involve one presenter, a series of presenters, a panel, a film or video, an open-ended discussion, or some combination of these.

For planning purposes, please note that the standard A/V setup includes a laptop, projector, and screen. Any requests for additional equipment may add to the overall session costs and must be specified in the proposal. Additional equipment needs include internet connectivity, speakers for sound, portable microphones,  flip charts, easel poster boards, and extra power strips for participant laptops.

Special sessions may involve food or refreshments for the participants, and it is important to include that in your proposal as well. If food or 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.

To avoid conflicts with scientific sessions, special sessions are not scheduled concurrently with talks or poster sessions. Special sessions are typically scheduled either on Monday morning after the Opening Scientific Plenary (10:15 – 11:30 AM; 75 min) or as a weekend evening session (8 – 10 PM; 2 hours). Evening sessions must end by 10 pm since this is when the convention center closes.

The program committee will consider the proposed day and time 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 will be emailed to session organizers by mid February.

To assist in assignment of a meeting room, organizers are asked to indicate minimum and maximum enrollments.

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 2014 Annual Meeting in Sacramento.

Proposal Format

Please note that the information listed below must be submitted through the online 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. Incomplete proposals will not be considered, so be sure to supply all of the information requested in the form.

Components of a Special Session Proposal

  • Title of the session
  • Description of the session (appears online only; 250 words max.)
  • Summary sentence (appears in print only; 50 word max.)
  • Name and contact information (affiliation, email) for the lead organizer and any co-organizers
  • Expected minimum and maximum number of participants
  • Requested session date: Monday – Wednesday
  • Requested session times:
    • 10:15 – 11:30 AM Monday only (75 minutes)
    • 8:00 – 10:00 PM Monday (2 hours)
    • 8:00 – 10:00 PM Tuesday (2 hours)
    • 8:00 – 10:00 PM Wednesday (2 hours)
  • The standard A/V setup is a screen, LCD projector, and laptop. Any additional A/V equipment must be requested in the proposal and may incur additional fees. Additional equipment includes internet connectivity, speakers for sound, portable microphones,  flip charts, easel poster boards, and extra power strips for participant laptops.
  • 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 contact information and the amount to be contributed.
  • Is the session intended to be linked to a scientific session? If so, which one, and how?
  • Is the session intended to be linked to a business meeting or mixer? If so, which one, and how?
  • Describe any known scheduling conflicts. These are not the personal schedules of the session organizers/speakers but rather a list of other proposed sessions that are known to conflict with this 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 workshop or a second special session. To promote diversity of sessions and topics, no person will be permitted to organize more than two workshops and/or special sessions at the 2015 Annual Meeting.

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, “Ecological Science at the Frontier: Celebrating ESA’s Centennial,” 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.

Other important information to consider

An important note regarding funds: acceptance of your proposal does not obligate ESA beyond providing a meeting space and including the session in the 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. ESA will not reimburse session organizers for expenses.

Please also note that meeting registration is not waived or reduced for anyone participating in any capacity in a special session. This includes session organizers, leaders, and speakers, all of whom must register for at least one day. Organizers are responsible for making this clear to everyone they recruit to help with the session.

If Your Proposal Is Accepted

All submitters will be notified of acceptance decisions by January 15. Further instructions on next steps for preparing the session for the online program in the spring will be provided then.

A list of accepted sessions will be available on the ESA website when registration opens in the spring (typically in early April). For most special sessions, there is no advance registration. 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 and anyone helping run the session of the date, time, and place of the session once the information is available.

Cancellation Policy

Once a 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 session is accepted by the Program Chair, cancellation by the session organizers will preclude the organizers from being allowed to submit any proposals for sessions for the 2016 ESA Annual Meeting.

Important Dates

November 20, 2014 Deadline for submitting a proposal to ESA.
January 15, 2015 Notification of acceptance sent to organizer.
February 12, 2015 Notification of scheduling (session date and time) sent to organizer.

To Submit

You must submit your proposal using the online submission form. Proposals sent by email will not be considered. When you submit your proposal, you will be automatically notified of receipt by an email sent to the address that you provide. If you do not receive such a notification, please contact Program Coordinator Jennifer Riem at to confirm that your proposal was received. You will be able to return to the proposal to edit it until the submission deadline has passed. Information on how to do so will be included in the automated email.

Link To Submission Form


Dr. Carol Brewer
Prairie Ecotone Research Group, LLC
PO Box 1135
Berthoud CO 80513

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