PROPOSALS AND APPLICATIONS
|March 12, 2014|
The GSA program at Fields supports activities not related to our thematic programs, both onsite (at Fields) and distributed (among PSU's, across the province, across the country and occasionally internationally). While some events are initiated and managed by the Fields directorate, the majority are community-initiated activities. Our proposal mechanism was devised to invite these activities. The directorate, consulting with referees and members of the SAP, makes decisions about support. The selection is fairly rigorous. While we reject few submissions, we discourage applications for events that seem of only marginal mathematical interest, that seem overpriced or impractical, or that do not strive for high quality. (A few years ago, we had to reject some excellent proposals because of budget constraints; however, following recent increases in our funding, we are now inviting applications.) Fields adds value both by encouraging people to propose activities that create, teach and communicate new mathematics, and by suggesting changes that improve the chance of success. We provide resources not only to fund travel and accommodation for attendees but to handle all the logistics of organization, from setting up credit-card registrations to catering. Fields frees the organizers and participants to do what they are good at and what they want to do: bring together members of the mathematics community, and bring mathematicians together with other scientists and educators to talk about their research and to start new collaborations. Besides the benefits of having us do the organization, organizers can take advantage of our advertising and our reputation.
GSA is the principal method by which Fields solicits a wide range of community input into its scientific programs. For the next three years, we plan to spend $450,000 annually on activities in this category. Most of the support is given out in small amounts.
Fields makes the case, by its very existence, for the importance of communication and collaboration in mathematics research. In addition, many of the events we sponsor contribute substantially to graduate and postdoctoral training. We support at least one summer school each year, and all workshops make provision for students to attend. Discussions with our stakeholders indicate that this increased activity benefits the research level in their departments. While thematic programs remain our signature events, they affect only a small fraction of the mathematical research community in Ontario in a given year, while GSA reaches many more people.
There are other important reasons for GSA. It allows us representation in areas of mathematics in which we have not, and may not be likely to, run a thematic program. GSA brings the institute into contact with topics and individuals who might be recruited to organize future thematic programs. GSA is also an important way that Fields stays connected to PSUs and Affiliates.
Fields supports GSA events in a number of categories: small and medium-sized workshops, birthday conferences, student-oriented events, seed funding for international conferences, summer schools, exploratory workshops and ongoing seminar series at Fields.
Operation of GSA Program: Any event with a contribution of $20,000 or more from Fields must be approved by the SAP, which meets twice a year (November and May). We support events irrespective of the affiliation of the proposers, based only on the quality of the event and on its relevance to the Fields community. However, we expect our Affiliate Universities, and especially our PSUs, to be the major sources of proposals for GSA events. Each PSU has a "SUAC", or "Sponsoring Universities Activities Committee", which solicits activity from all the mathematical sciences departments at that university, and screens proposals before they are sent to us. We send every proposal to a referee (an objective expert from the community), and often ask the proposers to make changes - in the composition or number of speakers, or in some organizational aspect of the event. Once an event is approved, a formal funding letter is written, and the event is passed along to the program team.
Our reputation as an efficient conference facility has results in frequent appeals to contribute logistical support for meetings (particularly on-line registration and reimbursement of attendee expenses), even if direct funding is not needed. But every event that uses any of our resources - money, staff or facilities - is a "Fields event". And we cannot lend our name to activities that have not undergone our approval process, including vetting by a SUAC if applicable, no matter how small the contribution from Fields appears to be.
We welcome ideas and initiatives that come from the community. In fact, the community is us. The people who request support for their events become part of Fields, and take responsibility for partial management of these events, including communicating with us about proposals, event logistics and reports in a timely way.
The Fields Vision for GSA: To keep the program viable and to manage
its projected growth, it must be
This ideal is made possible by a number of things.