The Banbury Style
Since its opening in 1978, the Banbury Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has convened more than 650 meetings for small groups of invited experts on a broad array of technical, policy and educational topics across the biosciences.
The small number of participants and confidentiality policy ensure that open discussion, new ideas, and productive debate play a major role in each meeting, while the relative isolation of Banbury’s 55-acre Long Island estate allows participants to focus on the task at hand.
Meetings are usually two-and-one half days long, with participants arriving on Sunday evening in time for cocktails and dinner, and leaving at lunchtime on the following Wednesday. There are typically five sessions with an emphasis on discussion. There are no evening sessions at the Banbury Center—this time is reserved for informal engagement between participants.
Anchored in the biosciences, Banbury meetings span technical, policy and educational issues. Themes tend to fall into one of four categories:
- Emerging areas in need of strategy or collaboration
- Established fields in need of review or reframing
- Controversial subjects in need of compromise or consensus
- Areas in which diverse stakeholders/sectors need to engage
Many of Banbury’s most impactful meetings are those that bring together experts/sectors whose work is relevant to the topic, but who may not realize a connection. In this way, we hope meetings will promote new ways of looking at a problem, new lines of research, and new collaborations.
Each meeting is organized by two or three experts who are internationally-recognized authorities in the subject area. Organizers are responsible for deciding the meeting’s objectives, selecting the 25 to 30 invitees, and drafting the meeting’s agenda (with input from Banbury).
Organizers should have a vision of what the meeting is to achieve (e.g. strategy, collaboration, consensus), and, where appropriate, consider how to ensure a meeting’s key conclusions/messages reach a broader audience.
The staff of the Banbury Center perform all the necessary administrative functions for the organization of the meeting; the Banbury director provides guidance and feedback to organizers throughout the process.
Organize a meeting at the Banbury Center
We are frequently asked how meetings come together at the Banbury Center, specifically how meeting themes are chosen, and how organizers are selected. The most typical routes are:
- An individual(s) suggests a topic to Banbury and after some discussion with the director, organization proceeds, or it is determined the topic does not to fit with the Banbury style/mission.
- The Banbury director identifies a theme that would benefit from a meeting, and reaches out to expert(s) in the field with an invitation to organize the meeting.
- An individual/organization reaches out to Banbury with interest in funding a meeting in a specific topic area. While Banbury is not a facility for-hire, we do consider suggestions for sponsored meetings provided the theme fits the Banbury mission and standards.
If you have a topic you feel would benefit from a meeting, please contact Banbury’s executive director, Rebecca Leshan at firstname.lastname@example.org.