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SFU Economics adapts CEA conference online for over 1,000 participants
In the face of the challenges brought by the global COVID-19 pandemic, many institutions have had to quickly adapt and come up with innovative solutions. This was no different for the 55th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Economics Association (CEA).
When it became clear that pandemic restrictions would make an in-person conference impossible, local organizer professor Steeve Mongrain together with the CEA organizing team quickly rose to the challenge.
In a historic first, the economics conference was held entirely online and attracted a record-breaking number of 1,200 participants throughout its three-day run on June 3 - 5. Hosted by Simon Fraser University (SFU)'s Department of Economics, the virtual conference featured an impressive line-up of lectures and sessions with 729 presenters from 47 countries.
"Pivoting to an online format was full of uncertainty and quite scary," says Mongrain. "However with the joint efforts of program organizer Francisco Ruge-Murcia of McGill University as well as CEA's Paula Emery and Sonya Marion, we were able to deliver three days of stimulating exchanges of ideas."
To help the attendees and presenters navigate the virtual conference, a team of volunteers consisting of 50 economics students stepped up to provide logistical and technical support. Mongrain also praises SFU Meeting, Event and Conference Services (MECS) for their support in creating a seamless conference experience, "SFU MECS set us up with a fantastic online platform called Hopin, and provided excellent technical support so that the conference ran without any glitches."
With this year's conference now at a close, Mongrain feels grateful for the collaborative efforts that has gone into adapting one of Canada's largest economics conference to a virtual platform.
"Everyone involved has worked hard to make this event successful," says Mongrain. "I am thankful to all of them."