Dear UACES Colleagues,
I hope you have been spending some time away from your computer screens and recharging the batteries over the summer months. It has again been a challenging year for the academic community faced with the ongoing uncertainties posed by the pandemic. Let us hope that things are a little more straightforward in the forthcoming academic year.
As I write, what is my last column as Chair, I am very pleased to report that final preparations are afoot for our Annual Conference which takes place from the 6th until the 8th of September. As last year the event will take place virtually rather than in Liverpool as originally planned. It’s fantastic to see the range of research panels on offer and to note that almost 400 delegates have already registered. Our Annual Conference continues to be the highlight of the UACES calendar. Do look out for the excellent Plenaries we have planned, one on the Future of Europe which features some of our UACES Patrons and one on the Northern Ireland protocol which has a range of excellent speakers. I am also delighted to announce that this year’s Keynote lecture (which will be the JCMS Annual Review Lecture) will be given by the former High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the current Rector of the College of Europe, Federica Mogherini. At the conference, we will also be presenting our best Book and PhD prizes for both 2019 and 2020, as well as the Lifetime Achievement award for 2021. A reminder too that we are hosting a number of local bubble events in various locations to give members the chance to meet up in person again! I look forward to seeing colleagues who are able to attend the London bubble. A reminder that it is not too late to register for #UACES2021 if you have not already done so.
On the subject of conferences, my congratulations to the Graduate Forum (GF) committee whose annual conference took place virtually in June. There were some excellent panels and plenaries including a very informative mentoring session with senior UACES colleagues and a brilliant and thought-provoking Keynote discussion on Gender and LGBTQIA+ Identities in the Academic World. This featured Professor Roberta Guerrina, Dr Koen Slootmaeckers and Dr Khursheed Wadia and was chaired by GF Chair Dr Olga Litvyak. Do listen to these if you haven’t had the chance to do so. Similarly, I would highly recommend the seminar discussion also from June, the second in our joint (UK, Ireland & The European Union in a time of crisis) seminar series with IACES, entitled Confronting Racism in Ireland, the UK and the EU. My thanks to the brilliant speakers who contributed to this excellent and timely discussion. A recording of this will be available soon.
Can I also draw members’ attention to the call for papers for a special section of JCER as part of our ongoing Jean Monnet funded DIMES project? The deadline for this is the 31st of August. Congratulations to Maryna Rabinovych whose article won the Luke Foster prize for the best article in JCER in 2020. My thanks as ever to the editors of our various journals and our book series for all of their continued hard work and commitment. As my term as Chair comes to a close, I would personally like to congratulate Dr Toni Haastrup and Professor Richard Whitman for everything they have done as the editors of JCMS thus far. We are in the process of recruiting new editors for the journal before their terms come to an end in June 2022. I am delighted to see that JCMS’ Impact Factor recently rose to 3.99 which is undoubtedly in no small part due to their endeavours.
Can I also remind everyone that our Experts on Europe profiles are now live on the new website and to continue to post your blogs on the Ideas on Europe site. We have had much interest following the first expression of interest for our new microgrants scheme and we will be asking for a further round of submissions in due course. We have also just launched the call for the next round of Research Networks for which the deadline is the 29th of October.
I’d like to end this message by saying a big thank you to all UACES members for your support and loyalty to the association during my three years as Chair. It’s been an unusual three years with the impact of the pandemic and of Brexit. We haven’t perhaps achieved as much as we might have done in less trying circumstances, but I am pleased that UACES remains vibrant and has adapted to the challenges posed. I stated in my pitch to become Chair back in 2018 that my top priority was to ‘bring equality and diversity more fully into UACES’ aims and objectives’ and I would like to thank everyone who has helped to advance this endeavour – in particular, the members of the EDI working group and Dr Katharine Wright and Professor Roberta Guerrina in their roles as EDI Officers.
I’d also like to thank everyone who has been part of the UACES committee over the last three years – your commitment and passion for the discipline of European Studies, despite the challenges faced, has been great to observe. A huge thanks as well to my fellow UACES officers during my time as Chair for all their hard work, advice and support, and to Emily, Emma and Melina in the UACES office who have worked so successfully in keeping UACES afloat virtually these last few years. Finally, I would like to wish Professor Simon Usherwood all the very best as the incoming Chair of UACES. I have known Simon as both a research colleague and a friend for over 20 years and I am sure that he will be an outstanding ambassador for the association. We recently recorded a short ‘In Conversation’ podcast together where we discussed the role of Chair, the challenges ahead as well as my apparently poor sense of direction at conferences!
It’s been an honour to be the Chair of such a brilliant association and I look forward to seeing you at the virtual conference next month and in person in Lille in a year’s time!
All the best,
Dr Nick Startin (Chair of UACES)