Saturday, June 30, 2012
The Season of Confercationing
I have not read anyone who captures the conniving by academics to vacation on someone else's dime better than David Lodge. I do not recall the book title but in one he has a character doing the grand tour of Europe by linking conferences together. That is probably not uncommon. I think some academics only vacation when its paid for by their school or, at the very least, they can write it off. Let's call it Confercationing.
Sometimes the Conferences are held by actual organizations. I have been to both Geneva and Amsterdam in connection with one such organization but I do not want to be too hard on that organization since it was international and strives to rotate the meetings.
Some Conferences are just people who decide, "Hey lets have a conference." I was casting around for an example of the "Let's have conference so we can have out trips paid for" and I found a humdinger. I am not going to name names because I'll bet this is representative of hundreds of others.
To have a really good Confercation you need to have an organization with members in foreign lands so you can go there or, if there is no organization, it needs to about international something or other. This is especially true if all those Confercationing are from one school. But if they are all from one School it is, by necessity, small but has a big title. For example, the Conference on International Judicial Systems which I made up but, if it exists, would mean that 10 or 15 people from a school and their buds could go to a difference country each year -- not including any of the "Stans" or anywhere too hot, too cold, too far from a fancy hotel, beach, or mountains or too inexpensive. You really have to watch that last one. Too inexpensive means no one will show up.
The conference I actually found was thousands and thousand of miles from the school hosting it and it was necessary for 13 members of the same faculty or some pals to go along. It was of the international variety although some participants seemed to have no connection with international anything except subsidized travel.
When you are confercationing you do not want waste too much time on the actual conference and you sure do not want anyone to prepare anything very scholarly to present. So, a day and half will do it and, lets see, sessions on "directions," "prospects," and "considerations" are all important as is an opening and closing session. Six people per hour and a half means not having to say much especially if the audience gets to ask questions. And, no need to schedule any time between sessions as that would mean they might actually go the full hour an a half and require each person from thousands and thousand of miles away to speak for a full 15 minutes.
Damn! I gotta go. My plane leaves shortly for the Greek Islands where the Comparative Contract Law Conference, which I organized, will be held. To economize I only invited myself but I promise to present my paper "Comparative Implied Obligations to Street Entertainers" to someone. I'll have plenty of time on the plane to scribble down my remarks which will last 10 minutes, max.