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2022 EHPS Members’ Forum Topic: The type of future EHPS conferences

Aug 4, 2022

Dear EHPS members,

While the world strives to recover from the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic (and to cope with the unknown future of the pandemic and other challenges), we really hope that this year’s conference will offer to as many of us as possible the opportunity to meet again in-person in picturesque Bratislava and continue our Society’s long tradition of networking, collaboration, and friendship.

In the previous two years, with the invaluable support by Easy Conferences, the EHPS managed to organise two successful online conferences. The experience gained from these events may be useful for the organisation of similar events in the future.

Although physical presence and the opportunity to interact face-to-face with colleagues and friends during a conference are irreplaceable, our experience showed that online scientific communication and interaction is also feasible and fruitful. Moreover, the online conferences significantly contributed to the reduction of the carbon footprint of our conference and the accompanying events, and offered the opportunity to many colleagues from all over the world to attend in a less cumbersome (and less expensive) way.

Reducing the environmental impact and increasing inclusiveness of conference attendance are two key principles that the Executive Committee believes our conferences should follow. However, climate change, health challenges, global financial crises, etc., may pose challenges to following these principles in the future. Therefore, we decided to open a discussion among EHPS members about the format of our future conferences.

The members of the Executive Committee discussed in depth different options for the organisation of future conferences and produced three basic scenarios which are presented below. Three criteria have guided the development of these scenarios: a) environmental considerations (e.g., the reduction of our conferences’ carbon footprint and increasing their sustainability); b) accessibility of our conferences to more colleagues around the world; c) maintaining, strengthening and developing strong ties between the members of our Society, old and new.

The three basic scenarios that we would like to discuss with you during our Members’ Forum in Bratislava are presented in the table below. After consideration of other options as well, we evaluated these three options as the most supportable and productive.



1. Annual, exclusively in-person conference as pre-pandemic1


The conferences as we know them, with plenty of opportunities to network and interact face to face.

Likely to maximize financial income for EHPS.


Increased environmental impact; use of many natural resources.

Expensive for attendees, when compared to an online conference.

Challenges in terms of attendance for colleagues residing outside Europe.

2. Biennial conference in-person

Significantly reduced environmental impact.

Reduced organisational and implementation costs, when compared to an annual conference in-person.

More preparation time for our members involved in the organisation of the conference.

The research cycle is often longer than one year, so bi-annual conferences could also help to showcase long and intense research projects.

Challenges for attendance among the colleagues residing outside Europe are still an issue.

Potential for reduced interaction and networking opportunities in the year without this event (unless relevant “preventive” measures are taken).

Potential for a detrimental effect on the Society’s financial status.

Trainees/PhDs/interns might only get one chance to attend a conference at the student rate. However, networking is greatly important at that stage.

3. Annual conference: in-person one year and online the next (one after the other)

Reduced environmental impact.

Reduced organisational and implementation costs, when compared to an annual conference in-person.

No interruption to interaction and networking opportunities.

Less access difficulties for colleagues residing outside Europe, whenever the conferences are held online.

New forms of interaction and networking will be developed, informed by learnings from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Our Society’s good tradition of having an annual conference will continue.

Might decrease attendance of in-person conferences (several delegates may choose to attend only online conferences).

Face-to-face interaction and networking opportunities, even if not much affected, will be fewer in comparison to the annual in-person conferences.

This refers exclusively to face-to-face conferences. Although a hybrid conference will take place this year as it was the most sensible format to use in times of a pandemic, it is still the most expensive and cumbersome solution, and a most challenging event for the organisers.

Please note that the scenario of only online conferences was not currently considered as an option, but we value the views of the EHPS members about this scenario and its potential pros and cons for the Society and its members.

Depending on the outcome of the discussion in the Members’ Forum and the resulting decision to be made by the next Executive Committee, the scheduling of our next conferences for each scenario may be formulated as follows:

Scenario 1 (annual conference as pre-pandemic):

2023, Bremen, Germany (the organisation of this conference is under way)
2024, Portugal
2025, Groningen, The Netherlands

Scenario 2 (biennial conference in-person):

2023, Bremen
2025, Portugal
2027, Groningen

Scenario 3 (alternate online and in-person attendance annual conferences):

2023, Bremen
2024, online conference
2025, Portugal
2026, online conference
2027, Groningen
2028, online conference

Whatever the decision may be, our proposal is to employ the new format for a trial period (e.g., 5 or 6 years) and then decide whether to keep it or not.

It is important to hear the voices of our members before making such a substantial decision.

Therefore, we invite all our members to take part in this discussion to be held during the Members’ Forum in Bratislava.

If you wish to make any comments ahead of the Members’ Forum (which could be used as a basis for our discussion there) or share with us any additional thoughts or ideas, please use this link:

The EHPS Executive Committee