Program in Early Cultures

Event Planning Resources

Please familiarize yourself with these tools to assist in proposing or planning a successful event with PEC.

The following questions and more may come up when planning your event! Before you submit a proposal please consider:

  1. What is the event type and scale (workshop, lecture, international conference)?
  2. How many participants do you expect? Internal to Brown or open to the public?
  3. What type of space will you need?
  4. Do you need catering, AV, or other amenities?
  5. Are participants traveling? Will they need accommodations? 
    • How much notice will international guests need to account for visas and other travel planning?
    • What will the costs be?
  6. Will there be dining off campus?
  7. Will you be serving alcohol?
  8. Will you be paying an honorarium?


The default option for many - but for that reason, we suggest moving away from it! Consider ‘lecture plus workshop’ instead. This can be a good option if you want it to be a public lecture, with broad appeal to non-academic audiences. One external speaker gives a one hour lecture followed by questions. Traditionally held in a 5 or 5.30pm slot, but we encourage you to consider times within the standard working day too, to make your event more accessible to those with caring responsibilities. 

Budget for travel and incidentals for the speaker, honorarium, one night’s accommodation (more if coming from a long way away), a reception with drinks and snacks after the lecture, and a dinner for the speaker and a small number of Brown faculty/students (refer to hospitality policy).

Lecture series

Good if you think your theme will attract a consistent group of Brown participants; less good if you see the individual events  as basically independent. Often works best if at the last event, or perhaps even at a follow-up event, you schedule plenty of time for discussion among your Brown group.

Practicalities are much the same as the Lecture option; maybe add a catered lunch for your follow-up discussion.

Lecture plus

A preferred option! The ‘lecture’ model, but the invited speaker also participates in some more informal event, maybe the next day, ideally aimed at graduate students: joining a graduate seminar at which their work is being discussed, presenting a work-in-progress talk, giving a professionalization workshop.

Practicalities much the same as the Lecture option; maybe add a catered lunch for the second event, and consider whether this will require the visitor to stay an extra day.


These have been a big success for PEC! There are lots of possibilities, but one that has resulted in excellent discussion in the past has been a group of three researchers, maybe one external and two internal, who precirculate forthcoming work on a theme. The event itself is discussion-based, as the participants or a moderator ask questions about the work, then open the floor for discussion.

The budget is much the same as for the Lecture option.


Like a mini-conference. Two or three, or more, invited participants all come to Brown on the same day; usually, they each give a paper and plenty of time is built into the schedule for discussion. A good option for working towards something even bigger, like a grant application or a large-scale international conference. For PEC funding, the papers at least should be open to all Brown people rather than closed-door, but it’s OK to have some closed-door sessions to workshop a grant application or similar.

Budget for travel and incidentals for your visitors, refreshments throughout the day (coffee breaks as well as catered lunch), reception with drinks and snacks, dinner. Honoraria are usually only for a keynote participant who is giving a public lecture at the end of the day.


We usually fund at least one major conference per year. There are lots of questions that will affect your planning: how many speakers do you want? Invited, or selected after a CfP? How many days of conferencing will you have? Will there be a keynote that is advertised separately? Try mocking up a schedule and thinking backwards from that; and feel free to come to Amy or Lauren to discuss the options early in the planning process.

For a preliminary budget, we suggest pricing out elements along the following lines:


Use Google Flights or a similar tool to estimate the cost of air tickets. 

Use the Amtrak website to estimate the cost of train tickets.

University policy states that the most economical mode of ground transportation should be used to and from air, bus and rail terminals: that means we cannot usually pay for taxis.

Use the federal rate to estimate the cost of mileage in a personal car.


In 2024, we advise budgeting $170 per night for accommodation in Providence.


In 2024, we advise budgeting $15 per person for a coffee break, $30 per person for a light catered lunch, $40 per person for a catered drinks reception with snacks or $15 per person for a drinks reception you will organize yourself (this means you buy everything from plastic cups to cheese!), and $90 per person for dinner at a restaurant. Please remember that for meals at restaurants, university policy limits the number of Brown hosts attending to six, and the total cost per person cannot exceed $95 including tax and tip.


We advise keeping honoraria to $500. Honoraria may not be paid to Brown employees, and usually not to virtual participants. Conference participants other than keynote speakers do not usually receive honoraria.

Please review these important guidelines and policies:

Annual Spending Guidelines

Expense Reimbursement Policy

Business Meals and Hospitality Policy

Visitor Travel Reimbursement

Alcoholic Beverages Policy

Lauren will submit all reimbursements (and honoraria), but it is good to be familiar with the spending limits and guidelines before you make purchases. If your expenditure exceeds the University’s spending guidelines, you will need to obtain Senior Officer approval for the reimbursement.

It is the event organizer’s responsibility to be familiar with Brown University policies. If you have questions about specific policies related to the links above please reach out to Accounts Payable (

These resources are available internally for events. Please use the PEC Events Form or reach out to Lauren when planning your event. She will assist with coordinating these resources. This list is meant as a guide to start your planning, as these resources may impact your budget and/or timeline.

Brown Event Strategy and Management

This department can be a great resource for large-scale events.

Student Accessibility Services and Employee Accommodation Services are both great resources to make sure events are accessible to the Brown community and beyond.

25Live Space Reservation

25Live is where campus spaces are reserved.

University Scheduling Office

Assists with, and approves scheduled space.


Used to request set-up for large-scale events, or custodial services if clean-up is needed after an event. 

Media Services

A/V services, set-up, and staffing if needed.

Brown Catering

Brown Catering is an excellent choice if ordered well in advance. Outside catering is available from approved vendors through America-to-Go, which Lauren is happy to assist you with!

Travel is usually booked upfront by the guest speaker, and reimbursed after their visit to Brown.

The Program in Early Cultures will book accommodations on behalf of the speaker to limit their out-of-pocket expenses. 

For questions and assistance with travel and hotel stays for your guest speakers, please contact Lauren Arsenault.

Contact Lauren through the PEC Events Form as soon as possible. She can book travel, accommodation, campus space, and catering for you - but only with advance warning!

Keep in mind the following timelines when submitting your event form, and reach out to Lauren directly if you have any concerns.

  • For travel, we recommend making bookings as soon as possible once your guests are confirmed. For domestic flights, one to three months in advance, and for international flights two to six months in advance. Train and bus are usually a bit more flexible.
  • For accommodation, bear in mind that hotels become much more expensive during peak travel seasons, and availability lessens during the commencement, recruitment and holiday seasons.
  • Catering should normally be booked: 
    • two weeks in advance for small lectures or workshops using outside catering. Book earlier if the event is around commencement or a major holiday.
    • as soon as possible if using Brown Catering or for larger events. 
    • When considering dietary restrictions, an additional week should be factored in to collect guests’ responses.
  • Campus space should be booked as soon as possible as space on campus is limited and in high demand during the academic year.