Call for Session Proposals

The NCSE 2021 Annual Conference will take a systems-approach to heat and water during this time of changeーexamining both impacts and solutions. NCSE 2021 will be a virtual conference that will explore the links between the changes in Earth’s physical systems and its social institutions by engaging leaders from the sciences, education, government, policy, business, and civil society. Read the Conference Vision.


Please note that the Call for Session Proposals has closed. Thank you for your submissions.


Key Dates and Deadlines

  • May 19, 2020: Call for Sessions Proposals and Call for Reviewers opens
  • July 20, 2020: Call for Session Proposals and Call for Reviewers close
  • July 22–31, 2020: Review period
  • Mid-September: Submission acceptance emails sent
  • Mid-September: Conference registration opens



icons of the focus areasPriority Focus Areas at NCSE 2021

Submissions should fit broadly into the following focus areas:


  • Heat impacts—from infrastructure to food systems to health and demography
  • Heat adaptation strategies (physical, social, and behavioral)
  • Heat impacts on emergent disease and social vulnerability (e.g., COVID-19)


  • Water scarcity and impacts on food production, human habitation, wildlife, and ecosystems
  • Big data and transboundary water collaboration; water rights and indigenous access
  • Water quality, environmental change, and public health
  • Flooding, glacier melt, and sea level rise
  • Emergent technologies and best practices in water system management

Systems and Solutions

  • Harnessing the power of big data
  • Machine learning and artificial intelligence
  • Integrated approaches to complex systems, including links between environment and public health
  • International treaties and transboundary science diplomacy
  • Navigating shifting resources through science and innovation in regional and local governments

Social and Ecological Sciences

  • Incorporating changing ecological systems into social decisions (ecosystem services)
  • Political institutions adapting to changing ecological conditions
  • Thresholds, and adaptive capacity—managing ecological and social transitions
  • Equity, access, and the environment

COVID-19 in Context

  • Pandemic as a threat multiplier (e.g., COVID-19’s interaction with heat and other stressors)
  • Transformation of the teaching and research landscape across higher education, such as innovations in teaching STEM remotely
  • Environmental health and sustainability in a pandemic and post-pandemic world (including food, water, economy, etc.)
  • Human-environment interactions in a post-COVID-19 era, integrating social and ecological sciences


Session Types

  • 50-Minute Concurrent Session: This is the standard breakout session format. Concurrent sessions should be focused on topics and projects with a broad appeal and relevance to the conference theme. To be most effective in the virtual format, NCSE suggests that a concurrent session include a moderator and three presenters representing a variety of topics and organizations. 
  • Five-Minute Flash Talk: Flash talks offer individuals the opportunity to present for five minutes on a novel and inspiring topic, plus two minutes for Q&A. A flash talk can have only one presenter. Presenters are allowed one visual slide. Flash talks should be dynamic and engaging and showcase strong communication skills. Flash talks will be grouped into sessions by topic or cross-cutting theme.
  • Poster Presentation: A poster presentation is a graphic representation of an author's research. Authors illustrate their findings by displaying graphs, photos, diagrams, and a small amount of text in a virtual poster presentation area.


Presenter Roles by Session Type

  • 50-Minute Concurrent Session: To be most effective in the virtual format, NCSE suggests that a concurrent session include a moderator and three presenters representing a variety of topics and organizations.
    • Presenter: Presenters share their unique research, experience, or point of view with the audience.
    • Moderator (optional but strongly suggested): The moderator introduces presenters, facilitates a general discussion, and manages the Q&A for the session.
  • Five-Minute Flash Talk: No additional roles should be added. Only one presenter is allowed for a flash talk.
  • Poster Presentation: Poster presentations may include one to three presenters.


Proposal Review

All complete proposals submitted before the deadline will be peer reviewed on the following criteria: 

  • Merit and clarity of the abstract (limited to 2,000 characters, including spaces).
  • Completeness of the proposal, particularly having well-developed content and sufficient presenters to address all relevant aspects of the topic.
  • Complete and diverse list of presenters.
  • Relevance to the NCSE 2021 Annual Conference theme, Hot Water: Science and Solutions for a Planet Under Pressure.


Presenter Policies 

Proposal submissions and session organizers are required to abide by the following policies to ensure a successful event. Please make sure that all presenters associated with your proposal are aware of these policies.

  • If accepted, all presenters participating in the NCSE 2021 Annual Conference are expected to pay the appropriate registration fee.
  • NCSE 2021 is a virtual conference. All presenters are responsible for ensuring that they have the correct equipment and AV capabilities needed in order to present virtually. To ensure that all interested presenters have the opportunity to present, please contact NCSE if you are unable to provide the necessary technology and NCSE will work with you to explore support possibilities. 
  • NCSE will provide all presenters with presentation training and resources to produce high-quality, engaging presentations in the virtual format. 
  • Presenters who fail to show up for their presentation without notifying NCSE at least 24 hours in advance will not be permitted to present at any NCSE-sponsored event for two years following the “no-show.”
  • If your presentation is drawing heavily on another source, it is your responsibility to seek permission from the original source to use the material. Be sure to cite the original source in any pictures, charts, graphs, etc., used in your presentation.
  • It is the policy of NCSE to hold events where physical and communication barriers do not exclude people with disabilities from attending and participating. Presentations must be accessible to all. 

For questions regarding the submission process, please contact