We have had a few informal discussions here at NCEAS on round-tables and the form/structure that they could take in order to be both engaging and useful. There is a dichotomy apparent, between ‘talks’ and ‘discussions.’
The more one-way, information providing ‘talks’ are a very useful way for researchers in different fields to explain and learn about on-going work, though time constraints generally mean that this leaves less room for questions and discussion.
On the other hand, more participative ‘discussions’ that address a broad topic, and have a loose structure to help keep them moving are a very good way for all of us to brainstorm about common ideas and concepts and hopefully leave us with more ideas (and questions!) than we started with!
The question then is – how do we strike a good balance? On Wednesday, February 18th, we will have a round-table session on…round-tables(!) to get ideas and brainstorm and discuss this.
As very good food for thought in preparation, here are some tips from Chris Lortie on how to provoke thought and and manage discussions: