I have been musing about something that happened recently. An issue was raised once again that has been around for as long as SIETAR USA has had Master Workshops. The question is: why didn’t we open a Call for Proposals (CFP) for Master Workshops? They have been by invitation since their inception. There are several reasons for doing it that way.
TIMING: Using a Call For Proposals for Master Workshops means the process has to be organized well prior to the CFP for regular sessions. In fact, it should be in place ready to announce at the time of the current conference, i.e., a year in advance. For 2022, the conference will be the first week in November so the CFP for Master Workshops should be written and a process for vetting them ready to go within the next month.
REGISTRATION: Another factor is that people need to be able to sign up for Master Workshops at the time of registration. The registration form is developed immediately after the CFP for program sessions. Master Workshops by invitation streamlines the process. Under the current system and in an ideal world, the Master Workshop Coordinators have their list ready and are contacting potential Master Workshop leaders in January, and by February have a commitment from all presenters. Creating the list takes time. They don’t design their list of potential Master Workshop leaders in a vacuum. They ask for suggestions from Board members, friends, colleagues. Developing the list is a collaborative process. But once the list is ready, the rest of the process goes quickly. On the other hand, waiting for responses to a Call, completing a review of each proposal, vetting the submissions (e.g. contacting references etc.), contacting the presenters with proposed changes, and receiving final copy greatly expands the amount of work and time involved, which makes meeting a reasonable deadline more difficult.
DIVERSITY: Another reason to design the Master Workshop program by invitation is diversity—both in topics and presenters. When the schedule is prepared with that in mind, the coordinators are able to invite workshop leaders who are known to have expertise in current topics, who know SIETAR USA well enough to be able to design their workshop for our members, and who are not all going to be doing a workshop on the same topic. All that goes into decisions of who to invite.
PROGRAM DESIGN: The Master Workshops constitute an integrated program that needs to be well thought out. A range of interesting, topical Master Workshops provides a draw, so the program needs to be promulgated early to increase the chances that more people are likely to register for a Master Workshop and the conference.
What is needed to organize the Master Workshop program using a CFP approach? A person who truly believes that it is a better way to do it, is willing to form a committee to help with all the work, and make it happen. That person hasn’t yet stepped up.
We are confident that there are many SIETAR USA members who could do a whiz bang Master Workshop, if they would just let us know—and that has happened in the past even without a specific CFP. Maybe there is a solution to the issues I’ve raised—perhaps a combination Invitation and Call. Perhaps something we haven’t yet thought to do. Any ideas?
Sandra M. Fowler
Editor, The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA