Common Ground conferences are intellectually and discursively open places. They connect the global with the local. They encourage people to speak in as many ways as possible. They turn otherwise ephemeral conversations into formal knowledge, leading to systematic review by the peer community and publication in an academic journal.

Connecting the Global with the Local

Common Ground conferences connect with different host universities and local communities each year, seeking fresh perspectives on questions of global concern. In recent years, we have worked with a wide range of educational institutions including, to list just a few:

  • The Australian National University
  • Beijing Normal University
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • Cambridge University, UK
  • The University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • Columbia University, New York
  • The University of Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Freie University, Berlin
  • The University of London
  • McGill University, Montreal
  • New York University in New York City
  • Singapore Management University

At conference sites, we bring the global to the local. Academics, researchers and practitioners from around the world gather to discuss conference topics. At the same time, we also bring the local to the global, as local academics and community leaders speak from the perspective of local knowledge and experience.

Ways of Speaking

Our conferences encourage people to converse in as many ways as possible.

  • Plenary presentations by some of the world’s leading thinkers are followed by ‘garden conversation’ sessions, a circle of chairs where an extended conversation can be had with plenary speakers.
  • Thematically defined ‘talking circles’ at the beginning of the conference encourage people to meet each other and discuss their reasons for being at the conference. The group meets again at the end of the conference to reflect on the most striking ideas emerging from the discussions, and to report back, in the closing session, agenda items for future conferences.
  • Individual paper presentations that are organized into thematic areas by the conference programing group. Papers on a common topic, or representing different perspectives on an issue, are presented sequentially in a session, with group discussion following to consider the ideas and implications arising from the papers as a set of ideas.
  • Roundtable Discussions in which individual authors have an assigned table during a session to review and discuss the ideas, frameworks, and perspectives underlying their work with interested delegates who gather at the table.
  • Poster/Exhibits, where individual scholars present visual displays (posters) of the status of their work, or exhibits of artwork, models, or other products.
  • Workshop sessions that involve extensive interaction between presenter and participants around an idea or hands-on experience of a practice.
  • Colloquium sessions consist of five or more short presentations, sometimes moderated by another presenter, with audience interaction strongly encouraged.

The range and breadth of conversational opportunities reflects our belief that each conference belongs ultimately to its participants.

Ways of Joining the Conversation

We try to insure that our conferences do not exclude people who are unable to travel at the time of the conference. Virtual participation means that a participant can submit a paper for possible publication in the journal, take part in the peer referee process, and access the conference content through the journal subscription that comes with conference registration. All participants, whether virtual or in-person, can also submit presentations to the Conference YouTube playlist. For graduate students, we offer the Graduate Scholar Award, which grants a fee waiver in exchange for chairing parallel sessions (and presenting a paper if the graduate scholar wishes).

Turning Conversations into Formal Knowledge

All too often, ideas circulating at conferences disappear into the ether once they have been uttered. People and their ideas are often hard to tie down during the conference, and to track down afterwards. For Common Ground, the conference is just one step in a formal knowledge-making process, from proposal submission, to presentation and audience feedback, to submission and peer review in a formal journal process. This is how the conference becomes an integral part of a systematic, dynamic and open academic knowledge-making ecology.