Symposium 2020 > Call for Proposals

Call for Proposals: the UCGIS 2020 Hawaii Symposium

(pdf of this call)

(direct access to the online Proposal Submission form)

Twenty-five years ago, UCGIS was established with the premise that the GIScience enterprise at universities was characterized by three parallel strands: research, education, and how these addressed societal opportunities and problems. Annual meetings were initially organized around agendas that alternated between priorities of GIScience research and GIScience education, supplemented with regular policy-focused meetings held in Washington DC. More recently, meetings have shifted to Symposia that have blurred the lines with a mixture of research and educational agendas or a thematic focus.

That blurring itself reflects the current integration of geographic information science and technologies (GIS&T) research, education, and applications across diverse sectors of university campuses and society. Now, more than ever, the academic GIS&T community is active in educational institutions of all types, and - more importantly - is pursuing activities in which basic and applied research are regularly integrated with teaching and learning more deliberately and creatively, and in many different academic departments. New types of relationships with government, industries, non-profits, and other non-academic organizations also enhance GIS&T projects and programs.

To reflect our support of the new climate of academic convergence, our 2020 Hawai‘i Symposium will be structured to highlight and promote the deliberate integration of GIS&T research, education, and application activities at universities and with our non-academic partners. During hour-long sessions, we will showcase cohesive themes, individual projects, and lines of scholarly activity being undertaken by groups of individuals that model these convergent practices. Individual sessions will explore how related research, education and application activities are woven together to jointly address societal needs. Themes and topics that demonstrate collaborations across multiple departments within a single academic institution, or collaborations across multiple universities, are invited. We also encourage sessions that highlight university partnerships with researchers and educators outside of academia.

The themes of the Symposium sessions will reflect the broadly diverse application world of GIScience as well as fundamental and persistent issues in basic GIScience research. We strongly encourage sessions that draw directly from recent and current UCGIS endeavors, such as the research challenges that were articulated during the 2016 Symposium (access the Symposium 2016 final report), current initiatives being pursued by our Research Committee, or topics related to our recent 2017-2019 Symposia themes (CyberGIS, Geospatial Data Science, and the Spatial Humanities). There can, of course, be a blending or mix across these ideas. Creative approaches to the proposed thematic framework are encouraged.

Example scenarios and themes include:

  • From a single university: a report on work by a campus research center that involves a number of faculty from different disciplines, followed by a report on a graduate student program such as an IGERT that has carried this research into training of future researchers, and a report on an undergraduate program with a particular application focus that has been built from this campus effort.

  • From a federal government research group: a report on an internal research project that has revolutionized how the agency does it work, followed by an overview of how this research has been applied and ending with a summary of the experience from an intern who participated in this research.

  • On the theme of leveraging new sources of high-fidelity spatial data: a faculty member undertaking government-funded research in the health sciences and teaching a class in this topic could present along with one of their graduate students who is concurrently doing research and presenting pertinent findings to local community groups and agencies, with insight from an agency participant on the success of the effort. 

  • On the theme of the Spatial Humanities: presentations by faculty members from three different universities, all of whom are both teaching and conducting research on a particular related topic. They might highlight the very different types of teaching they are undertaking that pertains to the Spatial Humanities research (small graduate seminar vs. a portion of a general education course for undergraduate students vs. a workshop at a national museum). 

Each presentation session will end with an open discussion period where lessons learned and reflections from other perspectives can be shared and recorded. 


Important Dates

  • November 15, 2019: Proposal deadline for a session or individual presentation
  • December 31, 2019: Decisions by the Program Committee 
  • March 31, 2020: Early-bird registration deadline for the Symposium
  • Thursday May 28 - Monday June 1, 2020: Symposium and Workshops
  • June 30, 2020: Invitations for paper submissions to a special journal issue (pending) 


Sessions may be organized by individuals from a single university, a multi-university collaboration group, or other entities such as government or commercial research centers. Each proposed session must contain a minimum of two speakers, ideally three, who will share a 50-minute presentation time. The person who organizes and leads the session must be from a current UCGIS member institution or affiliated with a partner organization

Selection Criteria

We expect to schedule a total of 10-12 sessions during the 2.5 day Symposium. A review panel will make their selections based on these criteria: 

  1. Extent of integration.  How well are the education and research activities integrated and linked?  What types of collaboration are being pursued? Are multiple departments or organizations contributing? How are diverse partners engaged and involved? How well are the research and education linked to societal needs and opportunities? 

  2. Novel and creative applications of GIS&T, or new ways of doing traditional things. Will this presentation inform the audience about new knowledge and new ways of thinking or learning in GIScience? Will this session help Symposium participants seek new connections or collaborations?  

  3. Active engagement with and for UCGIS. How well does the proposed topic align with recent and current UCGIS projects and initiatives? Does the topic suggest new areas in which UCGIS should become involved?

Post-Symposium Publication

UCGIS is currently pursuing opportunities for peer-reviewed publication of white papers arising from sessions that present thought-provoking and insightful content. At a minimum, session summaries will be posted as proceedings on the UCGIS website and selected papers may be invited to submit to a special issue of a peer-reviewed journal. 

How to Apply 

While we anticipate most proposals for presentations to come from groups who have already identified a cohesive theme for a session, we will also accept proposals from individuals. Individual proposers may be invited to join an organized session as a means of diversifying content and broadening participation, or be combined into a session of lightning talks or posters.  

  1. If you have an idea for a complete thematically-cohesive (hour-long) multi-person session, submit a proposal that contains the following elements:

  • Names, titles, affiliations/organizations, and email address of each participant
  • A title (< 12 words) and a brief summary description (< 75 words) of the proposed session
  • Responses to the following questions or prompts, each limited to < 150 words. Prepare a PDF that has the responses to these questions. 
    • Describe your project, topic, or theme and highlight how GIScience research, education, and application have been actively integrated.
    • What will be the focus of each presenter’s comments? 
    • How has the integrative nature of your proposed topic contributed to its successes and challenges? 
    • What are the new knowledge and new ways of thinking or learning in GIScience that your presentation will highlight? 
  • Four to eight keywords for your project/topic/theme.

    2.  If you are involved in an integrated GIS&T project you feel would be of interest to the UCGIS community but you are not currently affiliated with a group, submit a proposal that contains the following elements:
  • Names, titles, affiliations/organizations, and email address of the presenter
  • A title (< 12 words) and a brief summary description (< 75 words) of the presentation.
  • An abstract of your project or research (300-400 words). Prepare a PDF that has this abstract. 
  • Two to four keywords.

The online proposal submission form can be accessed here.