Call for Participation

Key Dates

Deadline for proposals: 19 November 2018 (22.00 GMT)
Registration opens: Early Bird tickets are available now
Programme announced: 19 December 2018
Early Bird Registration closes: 19 February 2019

Call for Participation

We welcome proposals from all disciplines responding broadly to our themes although these are intended to be neither proscriptive nor prescriptive but merely suggestive of areas we wish to explore. We are however open to all relevant ideas, from the philosophical to the most practical and pragmatic based around the history and future of the UK’s forests.


Keynote Speakers

Opening speaker: Prof. Kathy Willis, Director of Science at Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.
Thursday keynote: Prof Fiona Stafford, Professor of English Language & Literature, Univ. of Oxford; Fellow of Somerville College


Framing and themes

Read the framing statement on the front page

There are nine broad themes. These should be interpreted broadly and not seen as proscriptive :

  • Our historic relationship with trees and woodland
  • Landscape and the sublime forest
  • Land use, agroforestry and new approaches to cropping
  • Trees and woodland in society and as a source of health and wellbeing
  • Woodland habitat as a home to many
  • Artistic and literary responses
  • Climate change impacts
  • Wood as a material / contemporary timber-based design
  • How we live with trees, ethical approaches, and questions of sentience 


General format

The symposium should be thought of as a summit for the exchange of ideas. The event is modelled as an academic conference: we do not pay contributors (other than keynote speakers) and expect everyone to register (a broad range of pricing options is available to ensure that no one is excluded on the basis of cost; contributors also receive a substantial discount on registration).  In parallel there will be a trade show with stalls available for anyone wishing to display products, services, or memberships.


Types of submission

Submit any ideas that inspire you and which you think may have a place during this event. There will be limited slots available, so please excite us. We would particularly welcome proposals from foresters, cultural geographers artists, writers and well as panels or interviews or other discursive formats.

We particularly welcome submissions that challenge conventions of the academic conference and challenge conventions of forestry: in what senses may we approach in our behaviours, our speech, our work, our ideas and ethos, the notion of voicing the forest? We invite you to explore what the forest has been and will become through lectures, participatory workshops, discursive formats or artist interventions

Please bear in mind that the event takes place in a particular environment: Dartington is a 485 hectare mixed estate that includes modern and ancient woodland, riverside with swimming access, open pasture, formal gardens, and other outdoor sites where people can meet and work in groups. The history of forestry at Dartington over the past 100 years is particularly fascinating and in parallel with the last 100 years of the Forestry Commission. We particularly encourage proposals that take advantage of this context.

We are looking for submissions that utilise the following formats:

  • academic paper presentations lasting no more than 20 minutes (plus 10 minutes for Q&A)
  • presentation about artwork (artist talk)
  • film or informal performance
  • panel discussions, live interviews, roundtables and other discursive formats, lasting 55 minutes. There is potential to broadcast these live. See below for further details
  • walking and other outdoor activities, particularly ones that engage with theoretical or philosophical thought in addition to their creative content
  • workshops, lasting 1.5 or 2.5 hours
  • trade show exhibit

If you are geographically distant and choosing not to travel you can indicate your willingness to present via video or Skype. If your proposal is accepted you will be asked to register as a Presenter. We will only accept a very limited number of remote presentations.

Although there is generally time dedicated to Q&A please consider how interaction with the audience might be part of your offer. We will likely favour presentations where the interactive or the performative has been highlighted.

Beyond these formats, there is the potential for ‘extended’ special topics. You might, for example proposal a day-long workshop or round-table focussing on a very particular topic. If you’d like to make such a proposal, choose ‘Other’ when filling in the form and tell us in as much detail as you can about your idea. In pitching these ideas, you’ll be accepting a leadership role in making them happen within the context of the larger event.


Discursive formats

Conference Panels and Roundtables typically follow a model where contributors each speak for 5-10 minutes with time allowed for questions at the end. In reality speakers often exceed their time allotments and little time is left for audience participation. We really don’t want that, so we’d be very happy for you to propose different models which break the ‘expert table’ model and are genuinely about conversation and discourse rather than being yet another set of presentations.

Using the online form you can send information to the website that will encourage others to become involved in your panel. You can retain curation of the final makeup, but this is a way for you find interesting people who are planning to attend the event.

However, please don’t expect us to organise your panels for you. If you are proposing a panel you’re accepting the responsibility to collect contributors and ensure they plan to attend the event.

A pre-organized roundtable should include at least four participants. Roundtable proposals should include:

  • a succinct, 50-word explanation of and rationale for the roundtable topic
  • a timeline of the programme, including time for audience interaction and Q & A, and
  • clear evidence of each participant’s expertise in the topic area. 

One other discursive format we’d very much like to encourage to replace a paper session is a ‘live interview’ or simply a conversation between yourself and one or two others. We’ll need to understand what you’re hoping to achieve through the conversation. If an interview, we’ll need to be sure that both parties involved are planning to attend the symposium.


Symposium Convenors

  • The Royal Forestry Society
  • Prof Richard Povall
  • Jez Ralph


Academic Partners

Ulsan National Institute of Science & Technology, S. Korea (Science Walden project)



There will be a visual art exhibition specific to the exhibition


Organising committee

  • Simon Lloyd (Royal Forestry Society)
  • Prof Richard Povall (
  • Clive Adams (Centre for Contemporary Art & the Natural World)
  • Jez Ralph (Timber Strategies)
  • Richard Lewis (Botanist)
  • John Channon (Estate Manager, Dartington Hall Trust)
  • Dr Freia Bladon (Editor, Journal of Forestry & Lecturer at Sparsholt College)
  • Dr Camilla Nelson (artist and independent researcher)
  • Mark Prior (Forestry Commission)


Key Dates

Deadline for proposals: 19 November 2018 (22.00 GMT) [SUBMIT YOUR PROPOSAL]
Registration opens: Early Bird tickets are available now
Programme announced: 19 December 2018
Early Bird Registration closes: 19 February 2019