Our Virtual Approach to CIES 2021

Our Approach

A key goal of CIES is to facilitate the “dissemination of comparative, cross-cultural, interdisciplinary and international studies” (CIES Constitution). In bringing together thousands of scholars and practitioners from around the world, our annual conference plays a key role in meeting that objective.

CIES 2021 is being planned under conditions of uncertainty related to COVID-19. Planning began in May 2020 and in November 2020, upon carefully assessment of the feasibility of an on-site, the Board voted to convert to an entirely virtual conference as recommended by the Planning Committee. Our approach to vCIES 2021 is to continue to provide a full conference experience as we shift to an all-virtual conference. While the cost of a virtual conference can be less than an on-site conference, considerable expenses remain. The decision to cancel the on-site conference was not taken lightly due to contract cancellation fees, yet we were able to minimize these and avoid much higher costs for technology in the on-site venue. That said, there are still costs, and CIES must operate with a balanced budget. A virtual approach also includes additional costs (although lower than with an on-site approach). Registration make the conference possible.

In order to cover the cost of hosting the virtual conference (and to avoid security issues), CIES 2021 sessions will only be available to registered, paid participants. Registration fees have been reduced from fees in prior years. The conference is seeking to operate at break-even or a slight loss so as to minimize the long-term financial effect on the Society’s operations. Our projected costs for vCIES 2021 are substantially less than for an on-site conference but are more than $375,000. Costs for vCIES 2021 include technology (zoom licenses, professional hosts, All Academic, website design and hosting, website developers and support, accommodations under ADA, communications and media, etc.), conference management (behind the scenes management of the submission system and program development, student coordinator stipends), invited speaker fees and honoraria, and other costs. Please note that most of the work to put on CIES conferences is done by volunteers, which is indispensable – this is our members’ service to the society. This year we were successful in saving CIES about $150,000 by negotiating lower cancellation fees for the hotel and on-site conference planning contracts – even with events like COVID-19, contract cancellations are not free. While we have done our best to minimize expenses without compromising quality and breadth of what we offer, we invite participants to be aware that virtual conferences require funding, and registration fees are the funds that cover the costs of the conference.

How will the conference costs be covered? The Board is operating on the assumption that we will generate enough in registration fees to cover these expenses.  Our Board-approved budget estimates $375,000 in registration fees, based on an optimistic expectation of 2500 paid registrants. Like any budget process, these are estimates. If we can achieve at least 2,136 paid registrants the conference will break even. Registration fees (and membership) for CIES are substantially lower than many other professional or academic organizations.

What You Can Expect

The goal of the CIES Program Committee is to deliver a full, secure, and easily accessible conference experience online. All Zoom sessions will be provided through CIES (i.e., we will use CIES Zoom licenses and have a professional host for each session to minimize/avoid security and technology issues). Security will be further controlled in that only those registered for the conference will be able to access the links. Presentations that are posted online for asynchronous engagement – posters and art exhibits – will be available from April 25 through May 2 to allow for additional engagement by all participants. We will have all the usual elements beyond presentations – an exciting opening participatory performance, provocative keynotes and plenaries, engaging receptions and opportunities for networking, and of course the Presidential Address, State of the Society meeting and other meetings, pre-conference Workshops, book launches , the Film Festivalette, exhibits and sponsor engagement, and more.

We have extended the daily schedule by adding some early morning and late evening sessions times to accommodate presenters who are in time zones vastly different than North America. We scheduled sessions based on the location of submitters to try to accommodate various time zones. The draft program will be available in mid-January 2021 for your perusal.

Notices of acceptance (and non-acceptance) were sent on December 14, 2020 (and are available in All Academic); conference registration was opened at the same time. Discounted early bird registration rates are available through January 31, 2021. Presenters must be CIES members and registered for the conference by March 1, 2021 or they will be removed from the program. Remember, CIES membership is among the lowest for professional organizations, and our conference rates are also substantially lower than other organizations’ conferences. In addition, we have discounted rates for students and residents of low-income countries. We keep the fees low to maximize access. While we realize that many people and organizations are struggling in 2020-2021, we are striving to find a balance between cost and providing a meaningful conference experience.

CIES 2021’s virtual approach will provide participants with meaningful opportunities to engage with colleagues – sharing our research, dialoguing, meeting informally, and learning from others. We appreciate your patience and ongoing support of the Society – we value your involvement in CIES and vCIES 2021.

Virtual Conference Participation

As the conference moves to a completely virtual approach, we are striving to have as many sessions as we can via Zoom (as meetings, webinars, some with break-out rooms). Some sessions will be asynchronous forms of engagement online. Sessions will be as follows:

Session Type Virtual Congress
Panels (individual and group submissions)

Via  Zoom.


Poster sessions Virtual asynchronous presentation.
Roundtable sessions (Individual submissions will be grouped into sessions)

Presenters can select one:

·       Zoom session;

·       Virtual asynchronous presentation.

Book Launch sessions

Presenters can select one:

·       Zoom sessions;

·       Virtual asynchronous presentation.

Pre-conference Workshops Via Zoom.
Art Exhibits Virtual asynchronous presentation
All other sessions normally scheduled in hotel meeting rooms* Via Zoom.

* These include the New Scholars Workshops, Gender Symposium, UREAG Global Village, CIES keynotes and plenaries, the Presidential Address, the State of the Society meeting, etc.

Zoom sessions will be scheduled April 26-29, with the pre-conference workshops on April 25. Asynchronous sessions be posted April 25-May 2 for online dialogue and comments.