UACES Chair’s Message — March 2021

The UACES Network |

UACES Chair, Nicholas Startin

Dear UACES Colleagues,

Since I wrote my last Chair’s column, we have taken the decision to host the 51st UACES Annual Conference virtually due to the ongoing situation with the COVID pandemic. We held our first virtual conference last September and we look forward to seeing friends and colleagues again from the UACES community, albeit, sadly, again in a virtual environment. The call for papers remains open until the 1st of April so do consider submitting a paper or a panel if you have not already done so. This year, we are hoping, restrictions permitting, that we will be able to host a small number of local bubble events to give members the chance to meet up in person in various locations – watch this space. Here’s hoping that the 2022 Annual Conference will take place in Lille as scheduled.

Before this year’s Annual Conference takes place in September, the Graduate Forum will be hosting their Annual Conference virtually in June. The theme this year is ‘Europe in Cha(lle)nging Times’. The keynote entitled ‘Gender in the Academic World’ features UACES EDI officer Professor Roberta Guerrina and Dr Khursheed Wadia from the University of Warwick. I am delighted to report that UACES delegates who attend will be eligible to receive a one-off research stipend of up to 100 GBP, in recognition of the challenges facing PhD and Early-Career Researchers during the COVID pandemic.

Last month, UACES and our Irish partners IACES launched a Joint Seminar Series on the ‘UK, Ireland and the European Union in a time of crisis’ with the first seminar entitled ‘Confronting the Coronavirus Pandemic’. It was a pleasure to chair such an excellent panel of speakers which really reflected the multidisciplinary strengths of the two associations. It also included a video-recorded introductory address from An Taoiseach Micheál Martin. My thanks to IACES president, Dr Mary Murphy, and her colleagues at IACES, for their organisation and involvement with this series. At such a crucial stage in the history of UK/Irish/EU relations, I think it is important that we look to develop this link with our Irish partners. I look forward to future seminars and collaborations.

Also last month, UACES attended the annual EU Studies and Career Fair. Although the event took place virtually rather than it being in Brussels, there was much interest in our virtual stand. I enjoyed delivering an online talk to the next generation of EU scholars about ‘how to make the right choice in EU studies’. Having recently launched our new membership tiers which include student membership, we are looking to begin to grow our membership in the undergraduate community.

My thanks as always to the editors of our various journals and of our Routledge Contemporary European Studies book series for all of their continued hard work and commitment. We have two new editors of JCER, former Graduate Forum Chair Dr Rachael Dickson who joins Dr Christopher Huggins and Dr Ken McDonagh as General Editor and Dr Nele Marianne Ewers-Peters who has taken on the role of Teaching, Learning and the Profession Section Editor. My thanks to them both. We will soon be asking for expressions of interest for new editors for JCMS as Dr Toni Haastrup’s and Professor Richard Whitman’s term as editors comes to an end in June 2022.  May I also remind colleagues that our Ideas on Europe blog remains an excellent place to publish your blogs on European and EU studies and do check out UACES’ new website if you haven’t already done so!

In terms of the governance of the association, I am pleased to announce that Dr Tomáš Weiss of Charles University Prague and Dr Sarah Wolff of Queen Mary University London have been elected to the UACES Trustees Committee and will take up their roles in September. I would like to thank all UACES colleagues who put their names forward to stand for election to the UACES  Committee. It is very encouraging that, in these challenging times, colleagues in our community are prepared to be directly involved in the running of the association.

Last month, we announced that four new Honorary Patrons had accepted our invitation to join us to help promoting the discipline of European Studies and to provide expertise and advice. So, it is with great pleasure that we welcome the following experts as our new patrons to join our existing ones: Dr Rosa Balfour, Professor Helen Drake, Vincent-Immanuel Herr and Shada Islam. They have a wealth of experience in different fields and roles which will undoubtedly be invaluable to us.

Finally, my time as Chair will be up at the end of the academic year and I am very happy to inform you that Professor Simon Usherwood of the University of Surrey (soon to be the Open University) will replace me as Chair for three years from September 2021. Simon is a former Treasurer of UACES and has many years of experience on the UACES Committee. I first met Simon at a UACES conference in Budapest twenty years ago (if my memory serves me right) and I know that our association will be in very safe and capable hands under his stewardship. I look forward to handing over to Simon at the Virtual Conference in September.

Let me end this message by saying a big thank you as always to Emily, Emma and Melina in the UACES ‘virtual office’ for everything they are doing to keep UACES’ external face so prominent virtually during the pandemic.

Do email me if you have any suggestions about UACES and its future. I look forward to seeing you at the Virtual Conference in September.

All the best,

Nick Startin (Chair of UACES)