13 December 2015

Board Action: 2017-2018 Fall Meeting Locations

Posted by Michael McFadden

UPDATE: As a result of scheduling issues, the Board of Directors decision on the potential change in location for the 2017 and 2018 Fall Meetings has been delayed until later in February. The results of that vote – as well as the results of the member/attendee survey that was conducted to help inform their decision – will be published by the end of the month.

By Margaret Leinen, President, American Geophysical Union; Eric Davidson, President-elect, American Geophysical Union; and Chris McEntee, Executive Director/CEO, American Geophysical Union

As the 48th year of AGU’s Fall Meeting gets underway, we want to update you about an important issue that was discussed by both the AGU Board of Directors and Council and voted on during yesterday’s Board of Directors meeting: the need to consider alternative locations for the Fall Meeting starting in 2017 as a result of construction taking place in San Francisco.

Whether this is your first Fall Meeting or your 48th, you no doubt have recognized that AGU’s primary goal in holding this important gathering is to advance Earth and space science. The quantity and quality of space for presentations, posters, networking and discussions, high profile keynote and named lectures, and the availability of auxiliary events throughout the week, as well as the ability to engage with the program virtually through AGU On Demand, etc., all contribute greatly to the achievement of that goal. We work very hard to ensure that those events are able to meet the growing and changing needs of our community; and, whether it’s the ease with which you can get to and move about within the city, the timing of the meeting or the local amenities, we also work hard to ensure that you, our attendees, have the highest quality experience possible.

Those of you who are attending the Fall Meeting this year will quickly see, the Moscone Center here in San Francisco is undergoing substantial renovations (temporary walls and structures, increased congestion, and impeded pedestrian flow and traffic). These renovations, which are only now in their beginning phase, are part of a multi-year plan to expand the conference facilities. In 2017, the impact will be even clearer. AGU would lose meeting room space, resulting in fewer sessions and lectures, and requiring us to move hundreds of presentations to hotels across the city. General session spaces would be in short supply, and registration space and hallways generally would be smaller, leading to overcrowding. While the construction is scheduled to be complete two weeks prior to AGU’s 2018 meeting, big projects often aren’t completed on time, which could result in continuing limitations to the meeting and inconvenience to attendees.

We are pleased to see these upgrades happening, but we have also come to realize that the intensive construction that will take place in 2017 and 2018 poses a clear risk to the quality and diversity of the Fall Meeting’s scientific programming, not to mention our ability to provide you with the networking opportunities and – quite frankly – space we know you want. (You will notice construction impacts in 2016, but we are doing everything we can to ensure that the impact to your experience and our ability to advance the Earth and space sciences is manageable.) Not only does this represent a major inconvenience for you, our attendees, but it also poses a significant barrier to our ability to advance Earth and space science through the Fall Meeting programming.

This situation could result in a significant change and we do not take that change lightly. At the same time, it does allow us to ponder the possibilities that different locations may provide an opportunity to begin to experiment with the meeting in ways that many attendees have suggested in the past. Whether that meeting takes place in a different location or stays in San Francisco, you can be assured that we are doing everything possible to ensure that it aligns with our mission and values as a scientific society.

To help further inform the decision-making process, we are asking you to participate in a short survey about the types of things we should consider when making our decision about the 2017-2018 meeting location/locations. The survey will be open until 8 January, and you are strongly encouraged to share your insights and preferences.

As always, we thank you for your commitment to AGU and to the Earth and space sciences . . . and we look forward to finding new and exciting ways to help advance Earth and space science through Fall Meeting programming and content.