Open Space is a symposium format that allows participants to determine the content and organize the sessions on the day of the event. Open Space will allow us to incorporate more discussion into our meetings, to deal with subjects that are new, and to include topics that cannot be easily accommodated in traditional lecture formats. The impulse for Open Space comes from the observation that the most valuable parts of a conference are the informal meetings that take place during coffee and meal breaks. During these times we meet old friends, discusses our research, and makes plans for the coming year. Open Space is designed around the idea of a structured coffee break. An Open Space symposium begins with a brief introduction of the concept of Open Space and a preview of the activities to follow. Participants are then asked to come forward to suggest topics for discussion or presentation. Each topic becomes one of the sessions of the symposium. The person who suggests a topic becomes that session's convener. The convener is responsible for the session. She may lead a discussion, present a lecture, or simply open the floor to contributions from the people in attendance. After presenting their idea for a session, the conveners post their topics to a time/room grid, thus scheduling it for later in the symposium. Participants continue to come forward until the grid is filled, or there are no more suggestions from the floor. The main duties of the session conveners are to start the session and to assure that a record is kept of any discussions. Because this is the first year of Open Space, we have prepared two sessions in advance. These will focus on characters states (Peter Stevens) and a mentoring session for graduate students (Nancy Dengler).

Key words: characters, coffee, discussion, graduate students, mentor