Thematic sessions

We are now welcoming proposals for thematic sessions at our 2024 Annual Meeting in Liverpool. Submit your proposal to shape the programme of #BES2024!

Photo credit: Market Liverpool

If you have an idea for a thematic session that you’d like to run at this year’s Annual Meeting, you can now send your application for consideration by the Events Committee (closing date 17:00 BST, 17 May)


What is a thematic session?

Thematic sessions complement the contributed scientific programme of our Annual Meeting by providing a forum for the exploration of particular timely, innovative, and important questions in ecology, and for highlighting the integration of disciplines. They are an important opportunity for members of the community to shape the programme of the Annual Meeting.

Thematic sessions are two hours long and usually comprise one 30-minute plenary and six additional 15-minute talks. Thematic session organisers will be responsible for inviting the speakers for the session and for ensuring they receive the necessary information, for creating the running order, and for chairing the session.

Application information

The Events Committee have decided not to stipulate any particular themes for this year, leaving it open to you. As an integral part of our BES Annual Meeting programme, the thematic sessions should be developed to make a major contribution to the ecology community by:

  • sparking critical conversations,
  • highlighting expert transdisciplinary voices,
  • being thought-provoking, challenging and bold.

Thematic sessions take place in the larger spaces at the venue and are live-streamed, so the topic should be appealing to a large audience. They must be planned as fully in-person sessions, with all presenters being in-person delegates to the event.

Please note that the BES cannot cover registration and attendance expenses for thematic session organisers or speakers unless they are eligible to apply for a conference grant. Organisers may seek external funding or sponsorship opportunities if additional funding is required.

Please submit the proposal, using the link at the bottom of this page by 17:00 (BST), Friday 17 May.

Thematic proposal process

Before you send your application, consider carefully whether you will be able to commit the time needed for planning, including any troubleshooting.

Organisers will be expected to complete any tasks as necessary to ensure the organisation of their thematic session, the below list highlights tasks but is not exhaustive:

  • Identify and confirm a line-up of speakers to populate your thematic programme
  • Timetable your session
  • Promote your session and the event through your networks
  • Ensure your speakers have registered for the event
  • Manage speaker changes should there be any dropouts

As we get closer to the Annual Meeting, you will need to allocate more time to preparing for your thematic session.

Once the call for thematic proposals process has closed, all proposals will be evaluated by the BES Events Committee. The selection process is competitive, and we receive more applications than we can accommodate in the programme.

You will be informed of the outcome of your proposal in early summer and, if successful, you’ll be asked to confirm whether you want to continue with the process of organising the thematic session. Once a thematic session has been accepted it must go ahead; cancellation causes serious disruption to the meeting. Please do not submit a proposal if you are not sure whether you will be able to run the session.

What support will I receive from the BES Events team?

Successful applications will have a dedicated member of the BES Events team to support you:

  • You’ll receive a fact sheet to help you manage and organise your thematic session
  • We’ll provide clear deadlines to ensure that you are on time to deliver your thematic session and have regular contact with a member of the events team to support you to meet those deadlines.
  • The BES will promote your thematic session via our marketing channels including social media and newsletters.
  • We’ll provide joining instructions for the speakers and chairs in your session, including where and how to provide slides

The BES Events team will not be able to help you source speakers.

Creating an inclusive environment for ecologists

We are committed to promoting an inclusive ecological community and all thematic session submissions must consider equality and diversity. Each proposal should be developed with the BES equality and diversity statement in mind and this will be considered as a criterion when scoring applications.

The organisers and speakers should reflect the diversity of the ecological community. Please consider multiple dimensions of diversity. Consider reaching out beyond your own networks and the usual suspects when selecting speakers.

Consider the content of the session. Our Annual Meeting attracts academics, practitioners, and educators across all career stages and working across many disciplines. Try to consider more than one audience when developing your session.