UACES Chair’s Message — August 2020

The UACES Network |

UACES Chair, Nicholas Startin

Dear UACES Colleagues,

I hope you are well and that you have had the opportunity to spend some time away from your computer screens and to recharge the batteries over the summer months. Since I wrote my last Chair’s column in May, a couple of months after the beginning of the lockdown, we still find ourselves in uncharted water as the new academic year approaches. Despite these uncertainties, I am pleased to report that the UACES community remains busy and animated all-be-it within the confines of the virtual environment. Our colleagues in the office continue to do an excellent job (away from Woburn House) ensuring that UACES remains firmly embedded on the academic map. The regular #FeatureFriday slot has been a great way of keeping contact with our members. I recommend the most recent contribution to this feature by our Executive Director Emily Linnemann who reflects on the challenges posed (past, present and future) in her 10 years working for UACES. Congratulations to Emily on this significant anniversary.

I am delighted that we will be hosting our first ever virtual conference next month between the 7th and 11th of September. Although we will not be able to replicate what we had planned for our 50th Annual Conference in Belfast, we are nevertheless looking forward to this event. We have an assortment of fascinating research panels on a range of topical issues planned and its fantastic that over 330 delegates have registered for the event. Be sure not to miss the plenary session entitled ‘Equal and Inclusive? Responsibility and transformation in European Studies’, which emanates from our excellent Jean-Monnet-funded DIMES project. It is not too late to register for the conference if you have not already done so. A reminder that registration is free of charge to UACES members. I look forward to seeing some of you for my welcome address at 11.15 on Monday the 7th of September.

I am also pleased to inform you that we have agreed on the locations of our Annual Conference for the next four years as we feel this gives us much needed continuity in these uncertain times. The plan is to be in Liverpool next year, for what will now be our 50th Annual Conference. We will announce the destinations for 2022, 2023 and 2024 in due course so do watch out on social media.

Can I take the opportunity to thank all those UACES members and supporters who contributed in response to our recent appeal for funding which was supported by our patrons Brigid Laffan and Paul Adamson? In line with other academic associations, the loss of revenue due to the cancellation of our annual conference has left us in an uncertain financial position. It was great to see the warmth shown towards the association in the postings on Twitter and the generosity shown will help us to continue to support our Early Career Researchers and the Graduate Forum.

Our annual Doctoral Training Academy (DTA) will now take place as a virtual event in November, so look out for the details of this at the beginning of the academic year. We’re delighted that this DTA, along with those taking place in 2021 and 2022 will be funded by our newly-awarded Jean Monnet Support to Associations grant which will also help to support our Graduate Forum research conferences, expert-led seminars in Brussels and new Research Networks from 2020-23.

In other news, I am very pleased to report that we will be launching a new website for the association in September. It has been a long time in production but we are pleased with the outcome. It will be launched in various phases from September onwards and we will email members as soon as the site is up and running.

I would like to thank everyone on the UACES Trustees Committee, our Research Network Convenors and the editors of our journals JCMS, the JCMS Review and JCER for their hard work and commitment in recent months and for tackling the challenges posed by the lockdown. As mentioned in previous messages, the Brexit ‘settlement’ still remains unclear. Six months on from the UACES Officers’ posting a statement raising our concern about the UK’s future participation in the Erasmus+ scheme, I recently wrote a blog expressing my continued uneasiness on this subject in terms of what it means for the future of language learning in the UK.

Finally, can I say a massive thank you to Maria Garcia as her three-year role as UACES Secretary comes to an end in September. I know from my time working with Maria at the University of Bath and directly at UACES what an excellent ambassador she is for the Association and for the wider European Studies Community. I would also like to say a massive thank you to Katharine Wright who as the Association’s first EDI Officer this year has worked tirelessly to implement our EDI policy and strategy and has done an outstanding job on this.

Thanks to all of you for your continued support of UACES and do stay safe in these uncertain times. Do please email me if you have any suggestions about the Association and its future.