Session Guidelines

We recognize that everyone who attends the Natural Hazards Workshop has important information to share. As such, Workshop sessions are organized to encourage maximum interaction.

Speakers address topics by responding to questions prepared by moderators rather than by presenting papers. The audience also plays an important role. Initial remarks are limited to 10 minutes each, leaving plenty of time during every session for audience participation and the sharing of ideas and resources. We also don’t allow PowerPoint in most concurrent sessions because we hope people will talk to one another, rather than at each other!

Program Structure

The Workshop program includes keynote and plenary sessions, concurrent sessions, listening sessions, roundtables, new research, practice, and policy sessions, poster sessions, and much more. Plenty of time is reserved for additional networking during the 30-minute breaks and 90-minute lunches.

Poster Sessions

Poster sessions are held on Sunday and Monday, with a unique round of presentations each evening. During the designated poster sessions times, attendees have the opportunity to speak with the poster presenters. Participants are invited to present posters on new programs, projects, or recent research. Posters will be available to view throughout the Workshop and downloadable as a PDF from the Natural Hazards Center website.

Networking Roundtables

Networking roundtables provide an opportunity for Workshop attendees to have informal conversations on distinct topics of importance in the field. These sessions, which take place on Sunday afternoon and Tuesday morning, are guided by convenors but largely driven by the interests, experiences, and curiosity of the attendees.

Networking roundtables do NOT involve presentations by panelists, but instead are designed to encourage open dialogue and offer networking opportunities for everyone who attends.

Listening Sessions

These Sunday afternoon listening sessions will provide a brief overview of federal policy updates or ongoing research efforts. Facilitators will then use the bulk of the time to gather feedback from attendees. These sessions invite participants to have a voice in shaping policies, tools, and other outcomes.

Welcome and Self-Introductions

On Monday morning, Natural Hazards Center Director Lori Peek will formally open the 48th Annual Natural Hazards Workshop with a brief orientation to the meeting. We will then turn to the long-standing tradition of self-introductions. Everyone who is able should be ready to stand and say their name and affiliation to get the Workshop going. Please don’t forget, this Workshop is an AFZ – Acronym Free Zone!

Keynote Address

After the Monday morning self-introductions, the keynote speaker delivers a 45-minute presentation that focuses on this year’s theme and provides the larger context for the Workshop.

Plenary Sessions

Plenary sessions on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings synthesize various topics related to the theme of the Workshop. Each plenary session includes a diverse group of panelists who represent different sectors of the hazards community including policy, practice, and research.

Monday-Tuesday Concurrent Sessions

Monday and Tuesday afternoons will feature a variety of 90-minute concurrent sessions organized around this year’s Workshop theme and in response to recent developments in the hazards and disaster field. Moderators in each session will engage the panelists in the context of recent disaster events and ongoing research, practice, and policy applications. Panelists will have about 10 minutes each to respond and to provoke further conversation.

Approximately thirty minutes of each concurrent session will be reserved for open discussion between the audience and the panelists. PowerPoint is not used in the Monday and Tuesday concurrent sessions, as the goal is to maximize dialogue and interaction.

Training Sessions

Training Sessions focus on creating awareness about specific topics and increasing professional skills. Two 90-minute training sessions will be held on Monday afternoon.

Wednesday New Research, Policy, and Practice Sessions

On Wednesday morning, panelists will participate in a series of 60-minute sessions designed to share information on recently completed or ongoing research, programs, projects, and initiatives. These sessions are facilitated by moderators and designed for groups to present their work, exchange ideas, and get feedback from audience members.

Wrap Up and Call to Action

As is tradition, Natural Hazards Center director, Lori Peek, will close the Workshop on Wednesday with a summary of the highlights of the event and a discussion of opportunities for the future.

Participation Guidelines

Those participating in the Workshop as a moderator, panelist, presenter, convener, or audience member should review our Participation Guidelines to make your Workshop a success.



The Workshop audience includes about 650 academics, practitioners, and policymakers with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge. Because of this diversity, it is helpful to define any legal and technical terms and avoid the use of jargon and acronyms.


Moderators, panelists, presenters, conveners, and all audience members are encouraged to submit a brief summary of their current work for the Research and Practice Highlights section of the Workshop website. Although these Highlights are not for presentation, they are published on the Natural Hazards Center website.


PowerPoint is NOT available during the Monday or Tuesday afternoon sessions or during the Networking Roundtables—this is a long-standing Workshop tradition meant to encourage conversation and exchange between panelists and participants. However, PowerPoint will be made available to all other session types.

Moderator Role

Moderators help create an atmosphere where researchers, practitioners, and policymakers from wide-ranging backgrounds can exchange ideas in a positive, constructive environment.

Moderators have three critical responsibilities:

  • Formulate panel questions based on the session topic and the expertise of the panelists. Moderators should submit three to four questions directly to session panelists by at least six weeks prior to the Workshop. These questions help guide the discussion and provide a framework for the session. Therefore, moderators should give careful thought to designing questions, taking into account the unique perspectives and experiences panel members bring to the issue. Moderators are encouraged to schedule at least one conference call with panelists in advance of the Workshop to discuss the questions or alternatives.

  • Introduce the panel topic and panelists at the Workshop. Facilitate panelist remarks in response to guiding questions. Ensure the question and comment period runs smoothly, allowing for open remarks from participants and for as many questions to be asked and addressed as possible.

  • Keep the session on time and on track. Student volunteers at the Workshop will help with timekeeping, but moderators should be prepared to politely encourage panelists and audience members to keep their remarks brief and focused to allow maximum participation from the widest range of people possible. At the Workshop, all sessions start and end on time.

  • Wednesday session moderators will also be responsible for collecting PowerPoint slides from presenters in advance of the workshop.

Convener Role

The conveners’ role is to help facilitate maximum interaction during the Networking Roundtables so attendees can get to know one another and exchange ideas about pressing topics in the hazards and disaster field.

Prior to the Workshop, conveners should develop guiding questions to pose to the roundtable attendees and/or develop fun and engaging activities. At the beginning of the roundtable discussion, conveners should introduce themselves and provide a bit of background on the Roundtable topic and a brief discussion of how the session will unfold (No more than 5-10 minutes total). Conveners should then invite audience members to introduce themselves and move into a facilitated discussion with an emphasis on including as many voices and ideas as possible.

Panelist Role

Panelists, who are invited to sit on Workshop panels because of their experience and knowledge, play an integral role in the success of the Workshop. Panelists should know that their role is twofold: 1) to share what they know and what they have done; and, 2) to engage the audience. Panelists are really provocateurs for those in the audience, who are experts in their own right and have important stories and information to share.

Each moderator develops three to four questions, which will be sent to panel members during the Workshop planning period. Panelists will then have about 10 minutes to respond to the set of questions during the actual Workshop session.

We strongly recommend that the moderator and panelists schedule a group call in advance of the Workshop to organize the session.

Presenter Role

Wednesday morning New Research, Policy, and Practice Sessions are dedicated to sharing new and ongoing program or project updates that will be of broad interest to our hazards and disaster community.

Presenters will have 45 minutes to succinctly share their work, make sure it connects to the topic of the session, and exchange ideas with other presenters. They will then reserve the remaining 15 minutes to get feedback from audience members.

The moderator and panelists should plan to have a group call in advance of the Workshop to organize the session approach and format.

Continuing Education Credits

Attendance at the Natural Hazards Workshop qualifies for preapproved education credits for Certified Floodplain Managers (CFM) and Certified or Associate Emergency Managers (CEM/AEM). Learn more about our continuing education credit offerings.

Scholarships and Awards

We are proud to offer the following programs to help members of the hazards community attend the Workshop each year. Follow the links below to learn more.

Disability and Disasters Award

Natural Hazards Center Student Paper Competition

Mary Fran Myers Scholarship