B. Robert Owens
University of Chicago
The Pragmatism and Sociology Conference, held August 21, 2015, at the Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago, drew a crowd of approximately 120. The conference was organized by Christopher Winship, Christopher Muller, Neil Gross, John Levi Martin, and Robert Owens, and co-sponsored by Andrew Abbott. The conference was part of a crowded slate of pre-ASA events, including the Junior Theorists’ Symposium, also hosted at the University of Chicago. These overlapping events created challenges for organizers and potential attendees alike. As the conference drew much more interest than initially anticipated, we had to decide whether to change our venue, our budget and, most importantly, our conception of the conference midstream. When registrations rose above 100 (we expected 30-50 at the outset), the organizers were faced with an apparent trade-off between two Deweyan ideals we valued equally highly: openness to all, and the opportunity for all to participate actively in the conference’s intellectual exchanges. We decided to err on the side of openness, and ultimately we were able to seat everyone who signed up through the conference website. Happily, the level of the conversation also remained high throughout the day, and short presentations followed by long discussion periods allowed for meaningful audience participation.
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