The Rostock Retreat is organized annually by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. The Retreat is an experimental format for a scholarly exchange designed to encourage communication and collaboration on specific themes in a relaxed atmosphere. After three successful Retreats on visualization, causality, and simulation, the fourth Retreat will focus on visualizing uncertainty. Given the current travel and gathering restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Rostock Retreat will take place online, offering the opportunity to discuss and learn from different parts of the world. This three-day event brings together theorists, practitioners, methodologists, and applied researchers from across the social sciences and beyond to stimulate discussion of best practices and new proposals on how to communicate uncertainty in various contexts and their application in demography and population studies. The Rostock Retreat is built on interaction, collaboration, and creativity to inspire new ideas and hone skills. To this aim, the event will include both keynotes and short lectures, interactive challenge sessions for participants to tackle a specific DataViz problem as a team, and networking sessions to exchange ideas and feedback, present ongoing work, and learn from others participants’ research.

Selected applicants interested in improving technical and conceptual skills in data visualization will also have the opportunity to attend the MPIDR course on Data Visualization that will take place the week before the Retreat (14–18 June 2021).



Location: online event (further details will be provided to participants)

Dates: 21–23 June, 2021

Tuition: there is no tuition fee for this event



Keynotes: Dianne Cook and Matthew Kay

Special Guests: Jin Wu, Jonas Schöley, Ilya Kashnitsky


Schedule at a Glance

All times are given in Central European Summer Time (CEST).


12:30 Reception (30 mins)
13:00 Welcome and Opening (15 mins)
13:15 Keynote: Dianne Cook (1 hour)
14:15 Break (15 mins)
14:30 Guest talk: Jonas Schöley (1 hour, to be recorded)
15:30 Break (30 mins)
16:00 Challenge Work: Groups A1~A4 (2.5 hours)
18:30 End of Day 1

08:00 Guest talk: Jin Wu (1 hour, to be recorded)
09:00 Break (15 mins)
09:15 Networking: Groups B1~B2 (30 mins, Groups A1~A4 are also welcome)
09:45 Break (15 mins)
10:00 Challenge work: Groups B1~B2 (2.5 hours)
12:30 Break (45 mins)
13:15 Keynote: Matthew Kay (1 hour)
14:15 Break (15 mins)
14:30 Networking: Groups A1~A4 (30 mins, Groups B1~B2 are also welcome)
15:00 Break (15 mins)
15:15 Challenge Work: Groups A1~A4 (2.5 hours)
17:45 End of Day 2

08:00 Guest talk: Ilya Kashnitsky (1 hour, to be recorded)
09:00 Break (30 mins)
09:30 Challenge work: Groups B1~B2 (2.5 hours)
12:00 Break (1 hour)
13:00 Challenge Presentations (45 mins)
13:45 Challenge Poster Session (1 hour)
14:45 Final Remarks and Closing Discussion
15:00 End of the Retreat



A maximum of 20 participants will be admitted. Applicants should either be enrolled in a PhD program or have received their PhD. Basic knowledge of data visualization tools (such as R) and good English communication skills are required. The selection will be based on applicants’ scientific qualifications.

How to apply

Please upload your application via

The application should be a single PDF-file in English including:

  1. One-page CV
  2. A short proposal of a dataviz challenge that the candidate would like to advance and/or solve by participating in the Retreat (related to visualizing uncertainty)
    1. The proposal must use open access data and the participant should agree with sharing the challenge with other members of the Retreat.
    2. (optionally) The proposal should include a visualization containing an aspect of uncertainty, with a paragraph describing it (or critiquing it)
  3. A short motivation letter for participation, including skills with programming languages (e.g. R, python), familiarity with spatial and/or temporal dataset, or any other relevant details related to the event.
  4. Please indicate if you are interested to participate in the Data Visualization course to be held online before the Retreat (14–18 June 2021).
  5. Please indicate your availability in participating to the challenge sessions, whether first block, second block, or both, according to your time zone
    First block: 09:00-12:00 Rome/ 03:00-06:00 New York / 17:00-20:00 Sydney
    Second block: 15:00-18:00 Rome/ 9:00- 12:00 New York / 23:00-02:00 (next day) Sydney

The application deadline is 26 May 2021 (extended until 3 June 2021!). Applicants will be informed of their acceptance by 4 June 2021.

Questions or Suggestions? Feel free to contact the organizing committee by – anytime from anywhere.