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Symposia are based on a format that was developed and refined at Burg Wartenstein castle, the Foundation’s European conference center (1958-1980). Symposia are normally seven days long. This includes the arrival day and opening dinner, five meeting days (including a half-day break), and the departure day. All participants are required to stay for the entire meeting and participate in all academic and social events. The location of the symposium is decided by the Foundation in consultation with the organizers.

Participation in any symposium is by invitation only and there are normally no more than twenty people in attendance, including two representatives from the Foundation and a junior scholar who serves as the rapporteur. Students or family members of participants cannot be accommodated at the symposium or the symposium venue.

The distinctive character of Wenner-Gren Symposia arises from extensive pre-symposium planning and the unique symposium format. Pre-symposium planning begins approximately 15 months before the symposium date with a meeting at the Foundation’s office in New York, where the academic organizers work with the Foundation’s President and Conference Associate to develop the objectives of the symposium, identify specific topics, and decide upon the participants. Participants are given approximately a year