• Academics fly a lot: to research sites and archives, to conferences and workshops. Yet flying has many negative repercussions. Air travel has disproportionate climate impacts, and for reasons of time, money, and border security, produces many barriers for marginalized scholars, shaping who is able shows up at conferences and thus, who participates in the conversations that define a community of study. Forms of knowledge exchange that do not depend on aviation are thus urgently needed. E-conferences offer on such possibility.

    As scholars of media and energy, and as e-conference organizers and participants ourselves, we wrote this white paper to highlight what’s worked in the past, what hazards lie ahead for the future, and what potential gains could be won in the present. We hope our words will be useful to small conference organizers and professional associations alike. Our aim is not to end in-person meetings but rather to foster effective low-carbon alternatives that can help reduce the amount of travel necessary to participate in global knowledge communities. Meeting together in person is invaluable, but we can augment it with effective alternatives through critical reflection and smart design choices. We aim to spark further reflections and innovations in collaborative experiments in digital research exchange – or even other forms of scholarly community. We hope such experimentation continues long after the pandemic is over, and that its effects will shape the university for the better.