The infectious enthusiasm of scholars speaking about their research is often perfectly complemented by the never-ending quest of academic audiences for new knowledge, making seminars one of the most forceful and efficient mechanisms for transmitting scholarly information. Indeed, seminar attendance is an integral part of the experience for University of California (UC) researchers, with an estimated 300 to 500 seminars during a typical week of the academic year across 900 departments or programs in the UC system. This translates to well over 10,000 seminars annually that are presented in diverse formats and various frequencies—weekly department, graduate group and center seminars, monthly or quarterly talks in distinguished scholar lecture series, and annual university lectures by eminent faculty.
Although the importance of sponsoring and attending research seminars is universally acknowledged by UC scholars and administrators, time and travel constraints limit the potential for maximizing transmission and exchange of the massive amount of information contained in these seminars. The schedules of researchers (particularly faculty) are often packed so tightly that they cannot accommodate the additional time needed to walk to many seminars on their own campus, let alone travel to a neighboring campus. Consequently, the number of UC researchers who attend seminars on UC campuses other than their own is negligible.
The UC Seminar Network was conceived as a way to address these time constraints and open up numerous new possibilities for information exchange by delivering scientific presentations to a researcher's office computer using webinar technology that links seminars across the 10-campus UC system. This network would increase intra-, inter-, and off-campus seminar access, encourage speaker sharing, reduce travel, augment outreach, and provide electronic feeds for on-demand streaming and archiving.