I've almost finalized my proposal for the Tragedy of the Commons Symposium, and the options I'm presenting range in cost from $6,450 to $11,700. I think the $9,850 one is probably the best. I had to up my estimates, because I realized we'd have to pay for the gas for vans to take people to and from the airports, might have to pay some students to help out (although work-study might cover that), and that I should stick in a few hundred for incidentals like signs, postage, thank you cards, and the inevitable small items I'm not foreseeing, and because one of my colleagues pointed out that at business conferences they never ask people to share rooms. Since I'm trying to create something far better than the average academic cattle-car conference, I changed my target based on this new information.
I've never asked for anything close to this amount before, so it's nerve-wracking. On the other hand, my college pays up to $12,000 plus travel and meal costs for 1 person to come speak at our monthly convocations, so putting on a very high-quality symposium for 75 people, with up to 9 nationally and internationally known scholars, seems like a good price. At least that's what I keep telling myself, and what I'm taking a deep breath and telling them.
On the plus side, I now have three commitments to appear, assuming I get the money to cover them. In addition to Indiana University Political Scientist Lin Ostrom, Grand Valley State biologist Carl Bajema, and Arizona State University mathematician J. Marty Anderies have agreed to come.
If I've ever had a brilliant idea, I think its this--to have an interdisciplinary policy conference. Because that expands the range of possible speakers, and the range of possible attendees, to vast numbers, which maximizes the chances of putting on a very high-quality event. But it also is intellectually very desirable, because it allows people to get very different disciplinary perspectives on a common theme. This could be my one big idea for my lifetime--I'd better find a way to make it work out!