Graphics: Digital network connectivity across the globe depicted with light blue nodes and white lines on a dark blue background.

Seed project: Digital solutions for Hub conferences – an alternative to reduce academic flying

Researchers' carbon emissions are largely due to air travel, and many of these trips are for international conferences held at a specific location. Hub conferences leverage digital technology to instead connect multiple conference venues across different time zones and should be able to both decrease emissions from travelling and provide a more appealing alternative than entirely digital conferences.

Project information

Full title of the seed project
Proof-of-Concept, surveying, and initial acceptance testing of digital solutions for global Hub conferences to reduce the need for academic flying.
Project manager
Viktor Kaldo
Other project members
Christel Olsson, Alastair Creelman, Peter Asker
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University
Linnaeus Knowledge Environment: Digital Transformations
1st September to 31st December 2023
- (Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Communications Department)

More about the project

Academic flying accounts for a significant portion of emissions from universities and largely consists of long journeys to international conferences. Scientific conferences play a crucial role in knowledge exchange, networking, and collaboration between researcher and encompass both formal and informal aspects.

Universities and researchers, who are well aware of climate issues and often advocate for strong measures, are currently doing too little to reduce their own emissions. There is a need for an alternative to traditional conferences that offers the same academic benefits but results in lower carbon emissions.

Purely digital conferences became the norm during the pandemic but are often perceived as less attractive. Regional conferences can result in significantly lower emissions than international ones but limit participation.

Hub conferences are a relatively unexplored concept where multiple geographically dispersed locations (hubs) participate on equal terms in the same conference. Participants gather at different hubs, and digital technology enables both real-time and asynchronous interaction between them. This combination handles the issue of participants being in different time zones, while physical meetings within a hub enables personal relationships and networking.

The preliminary study consists of three parts:

  1. Development of a prototype for a digital scheduling application for Hub conferences, which aim to provides important support for those arranging a conference in coordinating the different time zones.
  2. Mapping of technical system requirements for video solutions (streaming, recording, and playback) and hubs.
  3. Evaluation of researchers’ attitude toward and acceptance of the Hub conference concept, and user testing of the scheduling application.

All components of the project are planned to be included in a research publication. Mapping of future partners at various universities and external organizations, such as video service providers and conference organizers, is also included, as well as the formulation of proposals for continued funding, development, and evaluation of the model.

What is a seed project?

A seed project is a minor project funded by a knowledge environment or a research group at the university. The aim is to launch and promote excellent research. Depending on the financier, a seed project may be to idenfify new or deepen existing collaborations, preferably cross-disciplinary ones, to explore possible research issues in a feasibility study, to collect empirical material, or to write an application for external funding.

Seed projects within Digital Transformations

Learn more about the seed project concept and Digital Transformations' other seed projects.