Recap Tackling Climate Change useR! 2020 breakout session

On Tuesday, July 7th I organized a breakout session Tackling Climate Change at a virtual useR!2020 Munich. When I submitted the proposal I hoped the session will be a mix of an invited talk, climate-related contributions submitted to the useR! and an open discussion between R users and researchers. In an online setup, the final session schedule was a bit different.

The session lasted almost 2 scheduled hours. Around 130 people joined the session.

The first part consisted of a short introduction and 2 guest presentations:

Presentations were followed by questions from the audience. The presentations’ part was recorded and is available on the conference YouTube.

The second part was an open discussion between the session participants. Due to the high number of participants, I decided to split the discussion between the zoom’s breakout rooms. Post-mortem I regret this move, most people were only interested in listening and with the help of the conference organizers we should have been able to moderate the discussion for the whole group. Next year I will know better.

Main points that were discussed across the breakout rooms: how to find projects and decide what to work on, how to find fellow R users, where to seek help related to R during climate-related research or projects. There was an eagerness to keep in touch and create a space for information exchange for the R community. The result is a Slack group for R users interested in engaging further in climate change discussion. Additionally, Dave Parr, one of the session’s participants, is curating a list of companies, communities, datasets, and other resources to increase awareness and ability to act on the climate emergency.

To sum up, prior to the event I didn’t expect so many people to be interested in taking part in such a session. I was blown away by the number of participants from so diverse backgrounds and locations. I would love to see the useR! 2021 Zurich to have a whole conference track dedicated to climate change.

I would like to thank Filip and Marcin for their contributions, all the participants for their ideas and discussion, and conference organizers for letting me host the session.