Friday, 02 February 2018 10:20

2020 RSAI World Congress | Request for Proposals


The Regional Science Association International (RSAI) aims to hold a world congress at least once every four years. Unfortunately, the last two planned congresses – in Bangkok in 2014 and in Istanbul in 2016 – had to be cancelled due to security concerns in the host cities at the time. The World Congress in Goa 2018 is expected to be a great success with more than 600 abstracts submitted so far. RSAI considers world congresses an important instrument for furthering its mission of global advancement of regional analysis and in Goa we would like to announce the World Congress for 2020. RSAI therefore calls for proposals to host a world congress in 2020. Potential hosts are RSAI Supra-Regionals, Sections or Members that have a proven track record of hosting conferences and related events. A world congress may be held concurrently with another event or as a standalone event. Proposals must be submitted by Tuesday July the 31, 2018, 23:59 GMT.  Proposals are evaluated by a Committee of RSAI Council. Based the Committee’s recommendation, Council will make a decision in the Council Meeting of Cork. This document outlines the application process, organisation and expected outcomes regarding the 2018 world congress.

4 May 2018



The World Congress of the RSAI was initiated in 1980, at a time when the organization had already established a tradition of annual supra-regional conferences in North America, Europe and the Pacific Rim through the North American Regional Science Council (NARSC), the European Regional Science Association (ERSA) and the Pacific Regional Science Conference Organization (PRSCO) respectively.  The purpose of the world congress is twofold: firstly, to create an opportunity for bridging the networks established by the supra-regional organisations (which since 2016 also includes the Latin American and Caribbean Regional Science Association, LACRSA), and, secondly, to provide a scientifically and socially attractive event for first entry into the RSAI networks for postgraduate students and scholars from parts of the world where the supra-regionals and their constituent sections have little or no representation.

RSAI congresses until 2012 have been held four-yearly since 1980 (with the exception of the one held in Israel in 1989 rather than 1988). The years and venues have been:

1980 1st – Cambridge Mass. (Harvard University), USA

1984 2nd – Rotterdam (Erasmus University), Netherlands

1989 3rd – Jerusalem (Kibbutz Ramat Rachel), Israel

1992 4th – Palma de Mallorca, Spain

1996 5th – Tokyo (Rissho University), Japan

2000 6th – Lugano, Ticino, Switzerland

2004 7th – Port Elizabeth, South Africa

2008 8th – Sao Paulo, Brazil

2012 9th – Timisoara, Romania

In 2012 Council appointed a working party, chaired by the then RSAI President Jean-Claude Thill, to review the world congress policy.  The working party made a number of recommendations, including holding the world congress every two years. Consequently, a 2014 world congress was organised to be held May 26-30 in Bangkok, Thailand. However, this congress had to be cancelled due to a military coup taking place just before the congress dates. Similarly, a 2016 world congress was organised to be held April 25-28 in Istanbul, but had to be postponed initially – and subsequently cancelled – due to safety concerns linked to terrorist activity in Turkey. It is clear that this very unfortunate sequence of events was impossible to foresee during planning of the last two congresses, given that both host cities had a longstanding reputation of being safe destinations for global events.

To meet its objectives and to ensure that its membership receives the services it expects from the organization, RSAI is now committed to running a successful world congress in 2018 in Goa and a World Congress each two years.


Criteria for a successful 2020 world congress

1.  Most importantly, the world congress should aim to have significant participation from members of Sections of all four supra-regional organisations – ERSA, LACRSA, NARSC and PRSCO.

2. The conference should also endeavour to attract regional scientists resident in countries in which no RSAI Section has yet been established. Subsidies may be available to selected applicants for participation through RSAI’s “Building Bridges” programme.

3. RSAI’s long-run objective is to organise a world congress with 1000 participants or more preferably every four years. There is the  expectation that the congress in Goa will have more than 500 participants.

4. The 2020 World Congress may be held as a standalone event. Alternatively, proposals may suggest to organise it jointly or “back-to-back” with another event. Such a joint or back-to-back event could be an RSAI Section meeting, a supra-regional congress, or an event held jointly with other organisations with similar objectives or networks.

5. The proposed dates of the congress must be such that they do not clash with other events that aim to attract the same regional science community, unless a joint conference is envisaged. Therefore, if the proposed location is within or very close to the territory of one of the supranationals, the proposal should include a statement that this supranational supports the nomination.

6. The conference should be held at an easily accessible location in a globally accessible city.

7. Accommodation should be available at the conference venue (when the conference is held at a hotel or convention centre). Alternatively, a range of affordable accommodation should be available within 15 minutes walking from the venue.

8. The congress should include plenary sessions of interest to the global scientific community. The overall conference theme and the selection of keynote speakers should reflect this. Of course, local perspectives and concerns may be interwoven with global perspectives and concerns.

9. Proposals should include initiatives to encourage participation from developing countries and from other countries in which no RSAI Sections have yet been established. RSAI can assist financially in meeting this objective through its “Building Bridges” programme but other funding initiatives (e.g. subsidies for participating postgraduate students) are also encouraged.

10. The programme should include one or more workshops for professional development of emerging scholars and postgraduate students, who may not be in a position to contribute a full paper to the formal scientific programme.

11. The working language of the congress is English but proposals may include arrangements for simultaneous translation of plenary sessions where this is deemed to be desirable.

12. Proposals should include a risk assessment regarding contingencies that could impact on the viability and success of the congress. Ways in which potential risks can be managed should be outlined.


Conference Organisation

1. RSAI establishes a 2020 World Congress Executive Committee (WCEC20) which will have oversight over all aspects of the world congress. In accordance with Article 5, Section 3 of the RSAI Constitution, this committee is chaired by the RSAI Executive Director. Other members of WCEC20 are the chair of the Local Organising Committee (see below), the President of RSAI, who chairs of the Scientific Programme Committee (see below), and two other Council members. WCEC20 co-ordinates the various tasks and has overall responsibility for the scientific and financial success of the congress.

2. WCEC20 will establish a Scientific Programme Committee (SPC), which will be chaired by the President of RSAI. Besides the chair, the five-person SPC will consist of one senior scholar from each of the four supra-regionals. SPC will select offered papers and ensure the scientific quality of the programme. This committee may call upon a much larger number of RSAI scholars to assist in selecting papers for presentation.

3. The RSAI Supra-Regional, Section or Member submitting the world congress proposal will appoint a Local Organising Committee (LOC) and appoint its chair. The LOC is responsible for all logistical aspects of the congress and arrangements with local suppliers. The RSAI Office and the LOC will draw up a full budget for the congress and recommend a schedule of registration fees to WCEC18.

4. RSAI Office will provide the website on which all congress information can be found and downloaded, and the portal through which abstracts, papers, registrations and the programme can be managed.

5.  For the services it provides, RSAI Office charges a commission equal to 20% of all registration fees received. The remaining registration revenue is transferred to the legal entity representing the LOC. Any anticipated sponsorship monies will be included in the budget.

6. The RSAI supra-regional, section or member institution which makes the world congress proposal underwrites the financial viability of the congress. The disbursement of any funds held by the LOC after the congress has been held is a matter of negotiation between the parties concerned, with negotiations being co-ordinated by WCEC20.

7. All arrangements for the organising of the World Congress will be formalised in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU will be signed by the President of RSAI, the Executive Director, the Chair of the LOC and the person representing the legal entity through which the LOC operates.


Application Process

1. Proposals should address each of the 12 criteria for hosting the 2020 world congress outlined above. However, it is understood that some of the information provided by the congress proposers (such as names of suggested keynote speakers, sponsorship, etc.) will be tentative at the time the proposal is submitted. 

2. Proposals should include a list of the key people involved in organising the congress, a draft congress plan (including dates, location and schedule), a detailed draft budget (including a schedule of registration fees) and a suggested range of accommodations and charges.

3. The acceptance of a proposal by RSAI Council does not constitute a binding agreement between the two parties. The subsequently drawn up MOU, which is guided by the proposal, will constitute a binding agreement.

4. Proposals should be submitted by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  by Tuesday July the 31, 2018, 23:59 GMT.

5. A decision regarding the 2020 World Congress will be made by Council at Cork.

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The Regional Science Association International (RSAI), founded in 1954, is an international community of scholars interested in the regional impacts of national or global processes of economic and social change.

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