UACES Chair’s Message — August 2018

The UACES Network |

tc6lp9bs_400x400Helen Drake, Loughborough University London

This is the full version of Helen’s final Chair’s Column for the UACES members’ newsletter, before she steps down after 6 years of service as UACES Chair. 

What’s in a subject association?[1]  UACES is above all a membership organisation. We exist first and foremost to deliver benefit to our members, and membership fees are a vital source of our income. In 2018 our Graduate Forum (previously the Student Forum) held its annual research conference at KU Leuven. By all accounts it was a big success, welcoming many new faces from around the world to our network of UACES Student and Early-Career members. On 24 November 2018, the GF will be holding its second Doctoral Training Academy at Aston University, Birmingham. This is another platform where we can focus on the needs of our student and early-career members, and we thank those of you who recently completed our survey designed to help us identify and meet those needs ever more closely.

Our members also make the Annual Conference what we repeatedly hear is a friendly, well-run venue for the exchange of research and ideas on Europe where old and new members alike can feel at home. Bath 2018 is coming up very soon, and we look forward to welcoming all participants. The call for papers for Lisbon 2019 will open in October 2018, and planning is already well underway for what will be UACES’s first ever annual gathering in Portugal.

Many UACES members have over the years also served as trustees in their capacity as committee members and officers, and without them we would not still be here 50 years on. We have honoured many of these individuals with our Lifetime Achievement Award – this year’s recipient is the inspirational Drew Scott – and mourned others who have left us before their time.  Each of them has made a distinct and invaluable contribution to the profession at large as well as to the Association, and we hope that our current and future members will continue to see such service as a natural part of their careers.  Our committee and officers are supported by our wonderful staff doing brilliant jobs.  None of us leading the Association is complacent, and through our UACES @ 50 project we have deliberately delved into the past to help us face the future.  We invite members to dip into our new podcast series for insights that are by turns amusing, enlightening and moving.

Associations by their very nature are also in a state of constant challenge and change, and UACES is certainly no exception.  2018 is the first full year of the new JCMS editorial team. UACES relies heavily on the success of the journal to generate income that is the bedrock of our sustainability, and we continue to work closely with the editors for mutual benefit.  An association’s flagship journal also exists to reflect and accommodate, if not shape the state of its subject discipline. Here, UACES and JCMS hold an interesting position amongst subject associations. European Studies never took hold as a fully institutionalised or professionalised academic discipline in its own right, and perhaps that is a key to the inclusive culture which UACES members tell us they value highly.  Former UACES founding member Alan Milward saw the ‘European Studies movement’ precisely as a challenge to the established order of things in the UK’s universities.[2] He noted the ‘sordid compromises of Brussels’ that invite us to look beyond our subject disciplines and construct new perspectives on real world problems.  Hello Brexit!

UACES is of course closely bound up with the UK’s membership of the EU.  The Association began as a small group concerned about the UK’s failure to join ‘the club’, and I see no reason why it would not continue to thrive once the UK has left Brussels.  EU funding has greatly facilitated our ability to serve our members, and we note with disappointment that our most recent application for EU Jean Monnet funding has not succeeded; this is not the first time that we have been knocked back.  We will monitor the situation regarding UACES’s eligibility for EU funding in the coming years, and advocate as needs be for continued access to funds.

After six year as UACES Chair, I step down at the Bath conference and so I will experience such challenges from the distance of a regular UACES member.  It has been a huge privilege and inspiration for me to chair the Association since September 2012. I will miss it, but I’m relieved to hand over to my successor Nick Startin with UACES in relatively good shape.  I am so grateful to all of the officers, committee members and staff who have made the job of Chair such a pleasure, however challenging things may have been on occasion.  I also thank all the members for their ongoing interest in and support of the Association.  I recently agreed to be interviewed on my experience as UACES Chair by Nick and co-opted committee member Adam Steinhouse, and those who are interested can view the video here.


Helen Drake, Loughborough University London, UACES Chair 2012-2018

29 August 2018


[1] H. Drake and E. Linnemann, ‘What’s in a subject association? UACES and European Studies in the United Kingdom, 1967-2017’ in  Larat, F., Mangenot, M. and Schirmann, S. (eds). Les études européennes. Genese et institutionnalisation d’un champ d’études.  Paris: L’Harmattan (2018, forthcoming).

[2] A. Milward (1975) ‘The European Studies Movement: What’s in a Name?’, JCMS XIV, 1: 69-80.

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