MCN is here to connect you to ideas, opportunities, practices—and most importantly, to each other during this pivotal moment. Our sector is working through a series of immense crises. Members of our community are dealing with job loss and/or reduced wages. Some institutions continue to operate with a primarily remote workforce, while others are attempting to re-open amidst precarious conditions. However, regardless of the specific circumstances, each one of us continues to recalibrate and reconsider what life actually looks like in the wake of a pandemic. 

We received close to 100 proposals during our Call for Proposals, which given the uncertainty of our times is nothing short of impressive and a clear testament to the vitality, diversity, and creativity of the MCN community. Out of those, we selected a dynamic, thoughtful, and engaging series of sessions that highlight the many conversations that are happening right now and were all responsive to the theme. 

The Program Committee started discussions around a theme in February. By the time we announced ‘Sustainability: Preserve/Progress’ late March, the world had changed and the theme was befitting. In April, MCN’s leadership announced that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was cancelling the in-person conference scheduled in Baltimore, and would instead start planning for a virtual event. This posed a series of perplexing challenges that we worked through as we began to design a virtual experience, something none of us had never done before. We decided to lead from a user-centered perspective, emphasizing navigability and accessibility. On behalf of the 2020 Program Committee, we’re delighted to share with you the schedule for MCN 2020 VIRTUAL.

Here are the biggest changes you can anticipate with this year’s schedule:

  • The schedule spans 6 days between November 10-19. We designed a less dense, more flexible schedule that still manages to host over 50 sessions hoping to give you the freedom to choose when to tune in to the conference sessions. 
  • Sessions are concentrated in the afternoon (all times EST) and staggered so that a 15-minute minimum buffer exists between each session. We also took different time zones into account for presenters in various locations around the globe.
  • We did our best to schedule fewer concurrent sessions to give you time to reflect on sessions and so you don’t have to pass up great synchronous experiences you really want to catch live. We thought this would give you several ways to scale up or scale back your participation based on your availability. After all, we all know conversations started at MCN rarely end after a session – and oftentimes, these spaces are the seeds for incredible collaboration and community-building.

So as you familiarize yourself with the program, remember that we each have a tendency to look at anything from our own unique perspective. This program is a digital experience designed for many, from different perspectives. 

Whether you’re tuning in for a 60-Minute Panel, cheering on one of our Ignite speakers, or finding a new friend at speed networking, we’re eager to see what you make of MCN 2020 VIRTUAL. We’ve made space to account for how folks might be able to connect and reconvene with one another in spite of their equipment’s limitations and/or bandwidth. We’ve thought about how participants can cultivate a personalized experience for themselves. We’ve dedicated time for contemplation in the midst of digital fatigue. And above all, we’ve paid special attention to how we can foster curiosity, exploration, and deep, authentic engagement. 

And with that, we’re thrilled to announce that: 

So register as soon as you can (and spread the word!). From there, you will receive an email with all of the information you need to access and navigate MCN’s virtual conference space. Once logged in MCNSched, we encourage you to complete your profile and upload a headshot to let others know about you.

In the weeks ahead, be on the lookout for more details about the conference platform—how to access sessions, meet other attendees, and more. We’ll also announce social experiences—such as speed networking, virtual meetups, and evening events. Finally, Deep Dives (included in the cost of registration but open with limited capacity) will be open for sign-ups at a later date.

We’d like to extend our gratitude to the entire Program Committee members for their dedication and input since January, all who submitted session proposals, and those who’ve been selected to present in November. We sincerely hope that you’ll enjoy MCN’s first virtual conference. Remember that this is an experiment, there is no one-size-fit-all approach to virtual events.

We look forward to interacting with you for another thought-provoking and inspiring MCN annual conference! 

By Andrea Ledesma, Andrea Montiel de Shuman, Mimosa Shah, and Meredith Steinfels, MCN 2020 Conference Program Co-Chairs, with Eric Longo, Executive Director.