It is the middle of summer in the northern hemisphere, a time when many of us would normally pack our suitcases, travel the world, and present our research in a range of conference venues. Unfortunately, we have had to manage as a globally distributed community with events like the International Pragmatics Conference taking place online. And while not everyone is a fan of Zoom presentations, virtual lectures organised by Rutgers, Loughborough, York, and Mannheim are attracting hundreds of scholars from around the world – some getting up in the middle of the night! It seems that, if nothing else, Covid is bringing us together as a global community in new ways.
The year has been off to quite an inauspicious start. While vaccine rollouts show promise for life possibly returning back to normal at some point this year in some parts of the world, the state of the pandemic still means that most of our teaching and research will remain at least partly remote for a while yet. What this means for conferences, such as the International Pragmatics Conference, which is supposed to take place in Switzerland in June/July, remains to be seen. Will we move to a hybrid system or will we stick to a virtual conference?
Happy New Year! And more importantly, welcome to the second year of the ISCA Newsletter. We have left a strange year behind us. With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, academic life has been turned upside down: research projects have been temporarily suspended, online teaching has become the norm, most have to work from home, and ICCA 2022 had to be postponed. And while there is light at the end of the tunnel, the immediate outlook is still pretty bleak, with many countries dealing with new and extended lockdown measures.
After a short summer hiatus, we are back with the third edition of the ISCA Newsletter. With the growing stress and anxiety many of us are experiencing due to a range of global issues, this seems an opportune time to share some positive developments, which show how we as a community can come together. While it will be a while before we get to see each other again in person, we manage to find ways to keep connected and indeed use this time to become even more of a global, inclusive community. And who knows, some of these innovations may be here to stay.
When we started the ISCA Forum newsletter in January, and even a few months ago, when we started preparing this second edition, few of us could have anticipated our strange new situation. As we write this, most of us the world is on lockdown, and academic life is moving almost entirely online. While this is a highly stressful time, there are some silver linings. One among them is that it is bringing our community closer together. Data sessions and working groups are no longer restricted by geographical distances. Moving meetings to online platforms means that everyone can join in from everywhere.