Institute for the Study of International Expositions 2023 Symposium (online)

James Fortuna's picture
March 23, 2023 to March 24, 2023
Subject Fields: 
Architecture and Architectural History, Cultural History / Studies, Digital Humanities, Popular Culture Studies, Urban Design and Planning




ISIE’s Second Annual Online Symposium  

‘Best Practices in International Exposition Designs’ 

23-24 March 2023 

CFP: Submission Deadline: 30 November 2022 



The Institute for the Study of International Expositions (ISIE: invites abstracts for day one of its upcoming two-day online symposium ‘Best Practices in International Exposition Designs’ to be held online 23-24 March 2023. 


ISIE is a recently established global interdisciplinary network of researchers interested in the design, promotion, reception, and consequence of the world’s fairs and expositions held since 1851. Though rooted in the history of architecture, science, diplomacy, art, and technology, our members hail from many disciplines and we welcome all those interested in exploring the many intersecting aspects of international expositions. ISIE aims to facilitate both scholarly and popular understandings of the significance of these global events that serve as mirrors of concurrent (both real and visionary) political, cultural, and technological conditions of the times in which they are held. 


Since the first World Exposition — the Great Exhibition of 1851 — these events have had one unexpected, even fatal, flaw: organizational amnesia. Once an expo turns out its lights and closes the gates to its fairgrounds for the last time, few participating countries hold onto their commissioners, designers, and staff. In short, they wipe their collective memory clean. When these countries begin planning pavilions and exhibits for the next World Expos, they often find themselves reinventing the proverbial wheel. This frequently results in designs that are ambitious in concept, sumptuous on paper — but lackluster in execution. 


The 2023 ISIE symposium will bring scholars, professionals, and enthusiasts together to learn from the past and to generate new ideas and practices relating to the design of future international expositions. Day one of our two-day symposium will focus on lessons learned from earlier fairs. Day two will feature presentations from invited participants and explore potential lessons learned from the most recent fair, Expo 2020 in Dubai. Another panel will highlight the work of experts in fields and methods related to expo design in the 21st century such as security, wayfaring practices, crowd control, and accessibility. We will then delve into insights from representatives of Expo 2025 and of bids for Expo 2027 and Expo 2030. 


We envision three sessions of academic papers on day one that will focus on the designs and design practices of past expositions that offer lessons to designers today. Examples of potential topics include developments in building materials, advances in display techniques, innovative systems for moving people and goods into and throughout various exposition grounds, and successful procedures for the reuse of fair pavilions and sites. 


ISIE’s aim is for participants to leave the symposium with new understandings and insights related to best practices in exposition design that can then be applied to future fairs and other major global events. Accordingly, the symposium will include roundtable events focused on the topic of exposition design and offer opportunities to informally socialize and meet others with related interests. We also invite those interested in the study of world’s fairs to become involved in the future development of ISIE and help create a seed bank of ideas related to exposition history and design. 


Deadline for paper proposals: 30 November 2022. 

Notification of acceptance: 15 January 2023. 

Symposium registration deadline for participants: 28 February 2023. 


Graduate students and emerging scholars are encouraged to apply. To submit a proposal, please send a 250-300 word abstract and a 2-page CV to the conference through the ISIE website:  


Registration for the symposium will open on 15 January 2023. [You must be registered for the symposium by 28 February 2023 to be eligible to present at the event.] 


Participant registration before 28 February 2023: US$100 

Student participant registration before 28 February 2023: US$50 

(Note that a copy of your valid student ID is required with registration to qualify. Scholarships will be made available for students and postgraduate presenters based on need. Please submit a letter expressing need according to the instructions on no later than 18 February 2023.) 

Regular registration before 20 March 2023: US$100 

Late registration between 21 - 22 March 2023: US$150  


This symposium has been made possible thanks to the generous support from the College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona and the Centre for Transformative Media Technologies at Swinburne University, Australia

Contact Info: 

For further information on either the sumposium or the ISIE in general, please visit ISIE- Please also feel free to reach out to either of the directors via their university email address.

Lisa Schrenk, University of Arizona:
James Fortuna, University of St Andrews:
Flavia Marcello, Swinburne University of Technology:

Contact Email: