Letter to ASEEES Members
It’s hard to believe that the summer is coming to an end and a new academic year will begin in whatever shape or form despite the pandemic. We’re all facing many personal challenges including; in-person or online teaching and dissertation research without being able to travel to the region, worries about schooling or care for our children, and financial difficulties due to job losses or furloughs. In these trying times, we also see the importance of family, friends, community, and camaraderie. We will get through these difficult days together.
During the summer, our Executive Committee, the Board and several standing committees met and worked on various challenges the association faces in these unprecedented times. Most importantly, after reaching out to you for counsel, we decided to move the convention online and are now planning its shape. We have also initiated a series of webinars, convening a group of seasoned researchers to discuss their methods of dealing with both the increasingly unstable political situation in some parts of our region and research plans derailed by the pandemic. We will continue this project during the fall and at the annual convention. The key problem that calls for an expedient solution is how to support our younger colleagues whose research plans have been turned upside down due to discontinued or reduced funding, and whose networks in the region have either never materialized or atrophied.
At the heart of ASEEES is a sense of community. Our annual convention has long been the way of nourishing our community by gathering, in person, to share our ideas, meet new colleagues, and have a drink or a meal together with our old friends. This year’s virtual convention will be different in form but the same in spirit. We will still share our research and ideas and have opportunities to meet old and new colleagues in the field. The drinks and meals in person may be difficult to replicate virtually, but we will still celebrate together. The virtual format in fact may provide new opportunities to broaden our community. Those who could not join us in person in the past due to the distance and cost can now take part. To make sure all can participate, we are offering low registration rates and registration waivers. We are also encouraging undergraduate participation by providing free registration.
As we become increasingly aware of the lack of diversity in our community, we are working to raise our BIPOC membership and make sure that students and scholars of color are at the center of our field, not on its margins. In realization of these goals, we support and encourage the work of the Committee for the Advocacy of Diversity and Inclusion and are collaborating with the REEES National Resource Centers to offer a new series of programs, including a webinar series and a mentoring program.
Finally, we want to recognize the generosity and activism of ASEEES members. Faced with the dramatic disruptions to our personal and professional lives caused by the pandemic, a group of scholars quickly mobilized to think of ways to support each other and address emerging problems. The new Working Group for Solidarity in REEES is now affiliated with ASEEES. The Executive Committee stands behind this initiative, and we invite our members to learn about its objectives and get engaged in its activities. The group holds bi-monthly meetings and has started a mutual aid campaign.
Wishing you all good health!
President Professor of Political Science, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Professor of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London