General Program Descriptions

BIRS currently offers six types of programs:

5-Day Workshops are offered at the BIRS facility in the Banff Centre (Banff, Alberta), as well as at the BIRS partner stations: Casa Matemática Oaxaca, BIRS UBCO, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Mathematics.

All other programs are held only at the BIRS facility in Banff, Alberta.

To submit a proposal for any BIRS program, use the online form.

5-Day Workshops

The 5-Day Workshop is the main program format of BIRS. Workshops run Monday through Friday (arrival Sunday afternoon, departure Friday noon). The intended format is for participants, who are experts, to come together to exchange the latest developments and ideas in their areas; to foster new collaborations and new interdisciplinary interactions; and to provide a forum for vigorous research-oriented discussions. In general, workshops are not conferences.

  • Number of participants (including organizers): Up to 42.
  • Organizers: Two or more, with one designated as the main contact organizer.
  • Accommodation: Full accommodation (single room and meals) and use of BIRS facilities (main lecture room, classrooms, internet, etc.) will be provided at no cost to the organizers and participants of the workshops.
  • Half workshops: Up to 21 people for 5 days; otherwise, the same as above.
  • Dates: The most popular season is mid-May to the end of August. We’re unable to accommodate all requests for this high-season period. Please give us off-season alternatives! Watch out for special calendar weeks that are religious or public holidays.
  • Application: To apply, use the online form.
  • Survey article: At the completion of their program, organizers are required to submit a 10-to-15–page article (possibly written by one of the participants), surveying the status of the subject in the context of the events of the workshop. These will be made into annual volumes to document the activities of BIRS. In addition, a number of the main talks will be video-taped for dissemination through video-streaming, and for archival purposes.

2-Day Workshops

2-Day Workshops are only offered at the BIRS facility in Banff, Alberta.

Workshops run Saturday to Sunday (arrival Friday afternoon, departure Sunday noon).

  • Number of participants: Flexible; typically up to 25.
  • Accommodation: Single rooms and use of the facilities of BIRS (lecture halls, internet, etc.) are provided at no cost to the organizers and participants of the 2-day meetings. Unless specifically negotiated, all meals are the responsibility of the organizers and participants. Note: The Banff Centre has a dining facility that operates a buffet-style service (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). This is available on a pay-as-you-go basis. The main town site of Banff (a 10-minute walk away) has many restaurants.
  • Dates: Organizers may suggest any Friday to Sunday period from mid-January to early December of the current year or following year.
  • Application: To apply, use the online form. Proposals for 2-Day Workshops must be received a minimum of 4 months before the proposed start of the event.
  • Summary article: At the completion of their program, organizers must submit a 2-to-4–page article, reviewing the events and outcomes of the meeting.

Focused Research Groups

Focused Research Groups are only offered at the BIRS facility in Banff, Alberta.

The Focused Research Groups program offers teams of up to 8 researchers the opportunity to live and work at the BIRS facility for periods of 1 to 2 weeks, in order to concentrate on their research, or to finish major projects. Focused Research Groups run Sunday to Sunday.

  • Teams: Teams should consist of individuals from different institutions.
  • Accommodation: Full accommodation (single room and meals) are provided for resident members. Two dedicated discussion rooms with computer work stations are provided for the use of the group.
  • Proposals: Proposals should detail the area of collaboration, list the team members and their institutions, and justify the case for using BIRS.
  • Dates: Organizers may suggest any Sunday-to-Sunday period of 1 to 2 weeks from mid-January to early December of the current or following year.
  • Application: To apply, use the online form. Proposals for Focused Research Groups must be received a minimum of 4 months before the proposed start of the event.
  • Summary article: At the completion of their program, organizers are required to submit a 2-to-4–page article, reviewing the aims and progress of the research project.

Research in Teams

Research in Teams are only offered at the BIRS facility in Banff, Alberta.

The Research in Teams program offers teams of 2 to 4 researchers the opportunity to live and work at the BIRS facility for periods of 1 to 2 weeks, in order to concentrate on their research or finish major projects. Research in Teams events run Sunday to Sunday.

  • Teams: Teams should consist of individuals from different institutions.
  • Accommodation: Full accommodation (single room and meals) and use of the facilities of BIRS (including a dedicated discussion room with a computer work-station), are provided.
  • Proposals: Proposals should detail the area of collaboration, list the team members and their institutions, and justify the case for using BIRS.
  • Dates: Organizers may suggest any Sunday-to-Sunday period of 1 to 2 weeks from mid-January to early December of the current or following year.
  • Application: To apply, use the online form. Proposals for Research in Teams events must be received a minimum of 4 months before the proposed start of the event.
  • Summary article: At the completion of their program, organizers are required to submit a 2-to-4–page article, reviewing the aims and progress of the research project.

Summer Schools and Training Camps

Summer Schools and Training Camps are only offered at the BIRS facility in Banff, Alberta.

Schools and Training Camps are pedagogical by definition, but they may be aimed at any level: from elementary or high school students or teachers, through undergraduate and graduate levels, or in preparation for institute thematic programs, etc. Summer Schools typically run Sunday through Sunday (arrival Sunday afternoon, departure Sunday noon).

  • Number of participants (including organizers): Flexible, up to 40.
  • Duration: Flexible; up to 14 days.
  • Season: Flexible; typically summer.
  • Proposals and application: Schools are typically organized by institutes and professional societies. Researchers interested in training undergraduate or graduate students are also encouraged to apply.
  • Application: To apply, use the online form.
  • Summary article: At the completion of their program, organizers are required to submit a 2-to-4–page article, reviewing the activities of the school.

Hybrid Thematic Programs

Hybrid Thematic Programs are only offered at the BIRS facility in Banff, Alberta.

5-month-long hybrid thematic programs are part of BIRS’s post-pandemic offerings, anticipated to run in 2022 and beyond. A hybrid thematic program should be in an active research area or on a topic that lies at the interface of several related areas. It consists of a regular flow of purely virtual events, interspersed with up to 2 in-person events at Banff, 5 days each.

The goal of a hybrid thematic program is to build global communities in exciting new fields in mathematical sciences, through a long-term immersive experience. Hybrid thematic programs will offer multiple opportunities for leading experts across the world to come together to exchange latest developments and ideas, in a variety of interaction formats. Early-career researchers will initiate long-term collaborations and interdisciplinary connections, through formal and informal discussions.

Program Requirements: Thematic programs should be in emerging directions that require wide dissemination and sustained interaction between researchers of diverse expertise who would not normally have an opportunity to interact. Each program should:

  • Have a clear focus with explicitly stated goals and measurable metrics of success
  • Bring together researchers of all career stages
  • Have a strong training and mentorship component
  • Connect research groups from geographically diverse locations
  • Conform to BIRS’s mandate of equity, diversity and inclusion.

There should be at least 2 virtual events per week. Virtual events within the program could be, but need not be limited to, weekly research webinars; distinguished online lectures and colloquia; mini-courses; research meetings; reading groups; mentoring sessions; discussion panels; or social
meet-and-greets. An in-person event could be a 5-day workshop or a 5-day graduate school, held either separately or in tandem, with up to 42 on-site attendees and others (up to 300) invited to join virtually.

  • Number of in-person participants (including organizers): Up to 42.
  • Number of virtual participants (including organizers): Up to 300.
  • Organizers: 2 to 5, with one designated as the main contact organizer.
  • Application: To apply, use the online form.
  • Summary article: At the completion of their program, organizers are required to submit a 20-to-25–page article (with input from several participants), surveying the status of the subject in the context of the events of the workshop. These will be made into annual volumes to document the activities of BIRS.

What we offer: BIRS will support all virtual events and cater to all time zones, as long as there is a designated organizer for each virtual event. In-person events could take place at any stage during the 5-month period and could serve as incubators or catalysts or as a grand finale. All main talks (whether delivered on-site or online) will be live-streamed, video-taped for archival purposes, and made available to program members. Full accommodation (single room and meals) and use of BIRS facilities (main lecture room, classrooms, internet, etc.) will be provided at no cost to the organizers and participants of the on-site components of the program.

Collaborations forged through the virtual thematic programs are eligible for further BIRS support through programs like Focused Research Groups and Research in Teams.

BIRS Now!

BIRS Now! events are only offered in Banff, Alberta.

BIRS Now! events will cover topics that are timely, urgent, foci of unexpected developments and in need of rapid response from scientific research. These events could be an opportunity for scientists to announce exciting breakthroughs or showcase solutions of long-standing conjectures. They could also target evolving situations of import, and engage the global scientific community, thought-leaders and policy-makers to develop solutions in real time. Specific attention will be given to the most critical problems at the interface of mathematics and society, and to areas identified as top priorities in science, technology and innovation. Possible topics include, but need not be limited to

  • clean energy and Net Zero Accelerator
  • Infectious diseases, vaccine economics, modelling and biomanufacturing
  • responsible development of artificial intelligence
  • national quantum strategy
  • cybersecurity, blockchain, digital identity
  • other strategic and emerging fields.

Program Requirements: BIRS Now! events should be in critically important areas that require sustained dialogue and exchange of ideas between diverse stakeholders (encompassing academia, industry, governments, multiple specialty areas). Each program should:

  • Have a clear focus with explicit deliverables compatible with its size
  • Provide a forum for interaction for different voices not attained within a traditional conference/workshop setting,
  • State a measurable metric of success and of impact,
  • Conform to BIRS's mandate of equity, diversity and inclusion.
  • Number of in-person participants (including organizers): Up to 42. Expanded capacity might be considered under special circumstances.
  • Number of virtual participants (including organizers): Up to 300.
  • Organizers: 2 to 5, with one designated as the main contact organizer.
  • Duration: To be decided by organizers.
  • Application: To apply, use the online form.
  • Summary article: At the completion of their program, organizers are required to submit an article (with input from several participants),surveying the status of the subject in the context of the events of the workshop. These will be made into annual volumes to document the activities of BIRS.

    What we offer: BIRS will support all hybrid events and cater to all time zones, as long as there is a designated organizer for each event. Main talks (whether delivered on-site or online) will be live-streamed, video-taped for archival purposes, and made available to program members. Full accommodation (single room and meals) and use of BIRS facilities (main lecture room, classrooms, internet, etc.) will be provided at no cost to the organizers and participants of the on-site components of the program.

    Collaborations and new projects forged through BIRS Now! are eligible for further BIRS support through programs like 5-day and 2-day workshops, Focused Research Groups and Research in Teams.