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How to organize a Digital Futures Focus Period

Once a Digital Futures Focus Period proposal has been selected, the organization of it consists of the following main steps.

1) The international scientific program committee is invited
The organizers should assemble a scientific program committee to secure the highest conceivable international excellence for the Digital Futures Focus Period. The purpose is to attract world-leading researchers to spend an extended period in Stockholm. The optimal scientific program committee has a spread of competence and contacts, scientifically and geographically, and consists of people with a high degree of international visibility that gives credibility to speaker invitations. Committee members need to be active in suggesting the invitees for the focus period. Ideally, at least one member of the scientific program committee should agree to come for an extended stay during the focus period, and all should be interested in attending the 3-day workshop.

2) Preliminary budget and date selection
Many events and conferences are organized at Digital Futures and KTH/SU from May to June every year. Hence, the first step must be to fix the dates for the workshop and visiting period, so that the required facilities (e.g., the Digital Futures hub for the workshop and other potential rooms at the campus) can be booked far in advance. A preliminary budget must be created and approved by Digital Futures, which makes the official funding decision at this point. The budget also indicates how many workshop speakers and longer-term visiting scholars can be managed, both economically and in terms of offering office space in the host’s divisions.

3) Invitations to workshop speakers
A list of workshop speaker invitees is prepared by the organizers together with the scientific committee, based on scientific excellence but with an aim for balance in geography, age, and gender. All speakers are expected to stay for at least the three workshop days. Speaker invitations include airfare (economy class) and accommodation. Invitees who cannot personally extend their stay beyond the workshop are encouraged to nominate a young researcher from their research group who would be a visiting scholar during the focus period.

4) Public announcement
The organizers create a public web page (e.g., in the KTH system) that they can update themselves. Digital Futures announces the focus period on its web page, in its newsletter, and on social media. The organizer should look for ways to reach other relevant scientific communities by other means.

5) Invitations to visiting scholars
The organizer selects visiting scholars to be invited, by recommendation and (optionally) through an open call. Visiting scholars are typically offered free accommodation and office space in the host’s division, but no travel reimbursement. To maximize the time for interaction, all visiting scholars are asked to stay for at least half the focus period plus the workshop (usually 3 weeks).

6) Call for workshop attendees
The workshop will be free of charge but have a limited number of open spots for attendees; ideally, the workshop should fit in the Digital Futures hub so that the funding can be spent on other aspects than booking a venue. The invited speakers and visiting scholars, and their hosts, have priority in attending the workshop. Digital Futures faculty and other researchers at KTH, Stockholm University, and RISE are then encouraged to register in an open call. Relevant industry and societal partners are also encouraged to send representatives. If there are open spots after these calls have closed, the organizers can consider having an open call as well. It is advised not to accept online attendance since this tends to reduce the number of physical participants.

7) Focus period takes place
The final step is to carry out the focus period, including the three-day workshop and visiting program. The Site & Event Officer and KTH Computer Support can provide some help during the workshop days. However, you need to arrange so that students/postdocs help with practicalities such as welcoming attendees, handing out name tags, etc.