What happens next? Session Proposal Submission (Part 1)

On January 15th, session and workshop proposals were due for the WMA Annual Meeting, held later this year in Palm Springs; Restore and Rejuvenate: Our Cultural & Natural Resources.

But what happens after the well-crafted proposals are sent in? Do they go into a vacuum only to hear a yea or ney many months later? Not on your life! One of the reasons why I joined the Program Committee this year, was the humane process by which the program is crafted. I felt that as a proposer, my ideas were valued, and the committee was invested in making my session the best it could be. This year, I further learned how collaborative the process is - internally with the Program Committee, as well as with the proposer.

After the January deadline, the Program Committee Co-Chairs Adam Mikos and Steve Comba organize the proposals for the entire Program Committee (PC). Each PC member is assigned a few proposed sessions to shepherd through the process, and talks with those proposers to gain any other knowledge that might not have made it into the proposal. From my perspective, this helps to assure that both the intention of the session and the description of the session are clear. I know being a recipient of this chat brought up questions that I, as a proposer, hadn’t considered, and made the session a good deal stronger.

Then, the first Program Committee meeting is held at the convention site. This year, it will be at the Hilton Palm Springs.

The PC members are to have read through all the session and workshop submissions, coming ready with questions. So by the time the first PC meeting happens, at least 21 people would have read through every single session!

Then we throw all the printed proposals up in the air over a flaming pit, while Steve yells “pull” and Adam shoots arrows into the papers. Whichever proposals are speared and stuck to the nearby tree (called “stumpy”) are confirmed for the fall conference.


In reality, we all confer around a big conference table and go over each session and workshop, having a discussion and asking questions. At the conclusion of the two day meeting, each PC member will have suggestions or further questions - be it suggestions about titles or phrasing of the description, to questions about balance of speakers they’ve chosen.

After getting back home after the meeting, PC members reconnect with the proposers to give them the feedback - everyone gets feedback - and are then asked to make the tweaks to their proposal and send in the modifications.

Then the tough part comes - our second meeting! It is coming up in late March, in Adam’s hometown of Portland Oregon, not to mention WMA 2010, 75 Years: Reflecting on the Past, Envisioning the Future. This is when the sessions and workshops are re-read, and the difficult program balance and scheduling discussions come on line.

We’ll be back with a report in early April with What happens next? Session Proposal Submission (Part 2.)


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