The future of academic conferencing: More global, accessible, culturally diverse
ICMPC15/ESCOM10 aims to reduce per capita emissions by 50%. In future, it may be possible to reduce emissions by 90% -- while at the same time further improving accessibility, inclusiveness, and cultural diversity -- by increasing the number of hubs so almost everyone can attend without flying.
Hubs should be located such that the number of participants is about the same at each. The ICMPC could have as many as 20 hubs with 50 participants each on average. Costs could be reduced by using regular teaching rooms and facilities at host institutions. Placing hubs in low-GDP countries would drastically reduce the cost of travel, accommodation, and registration (all three!) for participants in or near those countries, allowing many colleagues to participate for the first time. That might even change what we mean by "music" (not to mention "perception" and "cognition") by diversifying cultural contexts.
Every hub organiser would have a relevant PhD and relevant publications in leading journals. Apart from certain global agreements (e.g. a minimum rejection rate of 10%), everything could be organised independently at each hub, including the review procedure and program construction, with a morning and an evening session each day at each hub to maximize global interaction. The review procedure could be organised centrally (as at this conference) if there was an advance agreement that the academic standard (i.e. the mean reviewers' grades at cutoff points between long talks and short talks, and so on) in "new" regions would be slightly lower than in "old" regions, so that the proportion of long talks, short talks, posters and rejects was about the same everywhere. Local programs would then be entered by hub organisers to a publicly available global program. In a later procedure, each hub would independently choose virtual presentations.
It might also be helpful to clarify in advance that acceptance onto the program at any hub is conditional on attending the entire conference at that hub. First, it is complex and time consuming for organizers to accommodate requests to present on certain days. Second, the thematic coherence of the program is improved if organisers are free to place any presentation anywhere. Third, the conference works best for everyone if as many people as possible participate in the real and virtual discussions following each presentation.