Call for Proposals -Special Sessions

Submission Deadline

Thursday, A
5:00 PM Eastern (2:00 PM Pacific)

Meeting Dates

August 6 – 11, 2023
Portland, Oregon

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 are unable to complete your submission in time. The form automatically closes at 5:00 EST / 2:00 PST whether you have completed your submission or not.

Important Note

Proposals that are incomplete or received after the deadline will not be considered.

ESA meetings, open to ESA members and those interested in ecology, are among the most respected meetings of ecologists in the science community. ESA is committed to providing a safe, productive and welcoming environment. All participants including, but not limited to, attendees, speakers, volunteers, exhibitors, ESA staff, service providers and others are expected to abide by the ESA Meetings Code of Conduct. This Code of Conduct applies to all ESA meeting-related events including those sponsored by organizations other than ESA but held in conjunction with ESA events, in public or private facilities. In addition, ESA members and authors of ESA publications must adhere to the ESA Code of Ethics.

How to Submit

You must submit your proposal using the online submission form. Proposals sent by email will not be considered.

To submit a proposal, you will need to log in using an ESA member account. If you have been an ESA member or registered for an ESA meeting in recent years, you should already have an ESA member account. Your username and password to log in for the meeting are the same as for your ESA member account. If you have not been an ESA member or registered for an ESA meeting in recent years, you will need to create an ESA member account before you can submit. You do not need to pay membership dues to create an ESA member account or submit for the meeting.

Click the link below to begin by logging in and then selecting which type of proposal you would like to submit. 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 two automated emails you will receive, first when you begin and then when you complete your submission.

About Special Sessions

We invite proposals for special sessions for the 2023 ESA Annual Meeting. Special sessions are 60-minute or 90-minute sessions that 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 and innovative use of the session is encouraged. 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. You can browse examples of special sessions from the 2022 meeting.

All special sessions will be open to all registered meeting attendees without any advance signup required. Session organizers should plan for a potential range of attendance numbers since attendees can decide to attend any special session without advance notice.

We encourage potential submitters to also review the call for workshops and consider which session type would be more appropriate for the approach you have in mind.

To propose a session for longer than 90 minutes, please see our calls for in person short courses or virtual short courses.

New in 2023 – More Special Sessions Throughout The Week

Interest in organizing special sessions has exceeded capacity in recent years, and the traditional single timeslot on Monday morning after the Scientific Plenary limited how many proposals we could accept and made it very difficult to minimize conflicts. In 2023, we are increasing our capacity for special sessions by expanding the scheduling options for these sessions to include all times when we schedule workshops and oral sessions throughout the week. This means some special sessions will run concurrently with paper sessions, and attendees will have more choices for extended dialogue and exchanges beyond what is usually possible in the regular scientific sessions. All of the new timeslots are 90 minutes, and the traditional 60-minute timeslot on Monday morning will still be dedicated to special sessions.

Logistical Considerations

Accepted special sessions will be scheduled in 60-minute or 90-minute slots to minimize topic overlap and as meeting space and logistics allow. This year we are piloting new scheduling options that will have some special sessions running concurrently with workshops and paper sessions throughout the week in addition to the traditional Monday morning time. Friday is dedicated to short courses, workshops, and field trips, but we might schedule some special sessions on Friday if there are enough submissions and interest.

All special session rooms will be set in theater style due to space restrictions. We are using the same rooms for paper sessions. We cannot consider session organizer preferences for room setup this year.

The standard A/V setup is a screen, LCD projector, and laptop (with sound). All of the rooms we will use for special sessions will have wireless internet access this year and will be set in theater style. Flip charts and a panel table can be requested in the proposal. Any additional equipment requested in the proposal may incur costs and can only be provided if the organizer provides funding to cover the costs.

Career Track

All sessions included in the Career Track will be highlighted throughout the program and scheduled to minimize conflicts. Submitters proposing a session about career options, skills and development will be able to indicate that they would like to be included in this track.

Proposal Format

The information listed below must be submitted through the online submission form. It is provided here to assist you in planning your submission. The form may differ slightly from the version listed here. You may begin a submission and then return to edit it up until the deadline.

Components of a Proposal

  • Session title (75 words max.) A strong session title is short and descriptive.
  • One lead organizer (Required; name, institution, and email).
  • Any number of co-organizers, including zero (Optional; name, institution, and email for each).
  • Speaker(s) (Optional; name, institution, and email).
  • Session description (400 words max., required). Describe the theme and purpose of this session. The session description should avoid overly specialized language. Any ecologist attending the meeting should be able to understand it. It could include background information, goals, objectives, importance, and interest to the membership of ESA.
  • Diversity description (400 words max., required): Describe how this session involves diverse perspectives and voices as elaborated in ESA’s Diversity Statement, beyond or in addition to career stage and disciplinary diversity. The diversity description will only be seen by the committee while making acceptance and scheduling decisions. It will not appear in the meeting program.
  • Broader benefits description (400 words max., optional): Describe how this session benefits broader society. For example through education, public policy, communication/public engagement, application to commercial technology, national security or international cooperation. The broader benefits description will only be seen by the committee while making acceptance and scheduling decisions. It will not appear in the meeting program.
  • Preferred scheduling options (you can choose multiple options). All timeslots are 90 minutes except for the traditional Monday morning timeslot, which is 60 minutes. Please be aware that scheduling that matches the preference indicated here may not be possible. Timeslots that are NOT concurrent with paper sessions are noted with ***.
    • No preference
    • Monday 10:30 – 11:30 AM (60 minutes) ***
    • Monday lunch 11:45 AM – 1:15 PM ***
    • Monday 1:30 – 3:00 PM
    • Monday 3:30 – 5:00 PM
    • Tuesday 8:00 – 9:30 AM
    • Tuesday 10:00 – 11:30 AM
    • Tuesday lunch 11:45 AM – 1:15 PM ***
    • Tuesday 1:30 – 3:00 PM
    • Tuesday 3:30 – 5:00 PM
    • Wednesday 8:00 – 9:30 AM
    • Wednesday 10:00 – 11:30 AM
    • Wednesday lunch 11:45 AM – 1:15 PM ***
    • Wednesday 1:30 – 3:00 PM
    • Wednesday 3:30 – 5:00 PM
    • Thursday 8:00 – 9:30 AM
    • Thursday 10:00 – 11:30 AM
    • Thursday lunch 11:45 AM – 1:15 PM ***
    • Thursday 1:30 – 3:00 PM
    • Thursday 3:30 – 5:00 PM
    • Friday 8:00 – 9:30 AM ***
    • Friday 10:00 – 11:30 AM ***
  • Would you like this session to be considered for inclusion in the Career Track? Yes/No.
  • Linked sessions: Are there any other sessions proposed for the meeting that you are aware of that would ideally be scheduled in a specific order relative to this one, or close together in time?
  • Conflicting sessions: Are there any other sessions proposed for the meeting that you are aware of that should not be scheduled at the same time as this one?
  • Scheduling notes: Is there anything else we need to know about your preferred scheduling? For example, are there specific timeslots to avoid?
  • Flip charts: How many flip charts will this session need? (0-5).
  • Panel table(s): Does this session need a panel table at the front of the room? We can provide 1-2 panel tables and each table can seat up to 3 people.
  • Equipment notes: Is there anything else you anticipate you will need for this session?
  • Organizer demographics: The submission form asks a few questions about the session’s lead organizer to help ESA improve our services and monitor our efforts towards diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.  All information will be shared only in the aggregate to help us assess the diversity of our submissions. Proposal reviewers and the committee will not see this information for individual proposals. It is required to answer each question, but you can select “Prefer not to answer”.

Session and Presentation Rules

Special sessions are required to have one organizer who will be the point of contact for correspondence with ESA and will be asked to make decisions regarding the session during planning. Co-organizers may also be listed, but the lead organizer is the point of contact.

To promote diversity of sessions and topics, no person will be permitted to serve as the lead organizer for more than two workshops, short courses, and/or special sessions at the 2023 Annual Meeting. A group of organizers may propose multiple linked sessions. Each session should be submitted separately, and it should be made clear which other proposals it is linked to, as well as its intended order in the sequence of the events.

Note that the One Presentation Rule does not apply to workshops, short courses, and special sessions. Anyone presenting in one of these sessions may also present in a scientific session (a formal talk or poster).

Other Important Information to Consider

Acceptance of a proposal does not obligate ESA beyond providing a meeting space and including the session in the program. All organizers and participants must register for the conference at the applicable one day or full week rate. Organizers are responsible for making this clear to anyone they recruit to help with the session. ESA will not reimburse session organizers for expenses.

Evaluation Process and Criteria

The Program Subcommittee reviews all proposals for special sessions and makes acceptance decisions. Proposals may be from any area of science related to ecology, but those that pertain to the overall theme, “ESA for All Ecologists”, 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 Subcommittee has final authority for acceptance and scheduling for any proposed special session.

If Your Proposal is Accepted

All submitters will be notified of acceptance decisions by February. At that time, organizers will be provided with instructions to begin preparing the session for the online program in the spring.

Finalized information for all accepted special sessions will be available in the online program when registration opens.

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 session is accepted by the Program Committee, cancellation by the session organizer may preclude the acceptance of any sessions proposed by the organizer for the 2024 ESA Annual Meeting.

Important Dates

Dec. 15, 2022

Feb. 2, 2023 

May, 2023

Deadline for submitting a proposal to ESA.

Notification of acceptance sent to organizer.

Finalized session information is available in the online program.


Program Chair

Tim Nuttle PhD CSE CWB

Principal, Oikos Ecology LLC

Meetings Team

Ecological Society of America