By Scott Sherrill, UNC MPA Student
Coming up this weekend is the Unconference at the Frank Porter Graham Student Union on the UNC campus on Saturday from 9 AM until 3:30 PM- and you’re probably wondering what exactly to expect!
- 9:30 AM Chancellor Thorpe’s Keynote
- 10:30 AM Go to Student Union
Room 3206 A
- 10:45 AM Intro to the Unconference Style
- 11:00 AM Pitch Sessions & Organize Schedule
- 12:00 PM Lunch
Room 3206 A , Student Union
- 1-4:00 PM sessions are held
- 4:00 PM Report Back
Room 3206 A
- 5:00 PM End
The style of the event is such that participants generate the majority of the schedule and topics for the day. Brian Russell, one of the facilitators for the Town-Gown theme group, has used the event format several times before at Podcastercon, in the style of the Barcamp Technology Conference. The meeting style was influenced by open space technology, a mediating/facilitation style developed in the 1970s.
The Chapel Hill 2020 event will begin with coffee and snacks, followed by an innovation talk by Holden Thorpe, and then Brian will facilitate a pitch session. In the pitch session, everyone will have the opportunity to write down and announce topics they want to talk about in each session. Participants might just say “I’d like to talk about this,” and then pitch their idea fairly quickly. All participants will have the opportunity to express topics they are interested in. The ideas will populate a time and room grid, which will determine the schedule for the day and the location for each topic. Similar topics may be combined to make sure there is room for everything. Participants will also place hashtags next to the event they want to attend.
The facilitators want to make sure there is enough room for everyone who wants to attend. So when sessions start, people can get to rooms. The facilitators also will try to have people who can go to different rooms and make sure everything is going smoothly. There will be a break for lunch and a wrap up at end of the day. Where participants can talk about what they learned.
Typically, everyone leaves happy because participants have control over the day. One of the governing principles is the Rule of Feet: people can get up and move if wanted. Another strong point is the networking angle: participants will meet each other and talk about important things and topics of interest. With the innovation conference and themes, people might get together and start working on ideas they are going to recommend.
Brian hopes people get out what they want: the overarching concept is innovation, and he hopes that people can leave with innovative ideas that they can implement but also have a good time and participate with the comprehensive plan.
Feedback Brian has received from prior events: people tend to leave happy, and participants come and meet interesting people. There is something in it for everyone.
Participants don’t have to marathon the whole day; it is valuable to come at any point: find the grid and determine what’s going on and where.
The event will be held at the UNC Frank Porter Graham Student Union from 9:30 – 3:30 PM. Parking will be available at Cobb Deck parking, Harold Hall.