Congress moved online amid COVID-19 concerns

There will be no in-person Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in London in 2020 in light of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and Western announced today.

Instead, a proposal to move Congress online is being developed in collaboration with the federation’s member associations who wish to participate.

The online Congress 2020 will continue to encourage multidisciplinary engagement through association programming and open events, all under the 2020 theme Bridging Divides: Confronting Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism.

Seventy-one associations and 8,000 researchers, graduate students, policy-makers and practitioners were to gather on Western’s campus May 30-June 5 to present a full week of public lectures, workshops, panels, cultural events and receptions. However, in recent weeks, it became apparent that a traditional, in-person Congress was no longer possible this year.

“Our No. 1 priority is the protection of public health and the safety of all Congress participants,” said Patrizia Albanese, Chair of the Federation Board of Directors. “By hosting a virtual Congress, we can help ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 and give our members other opportunities to connect and to disseminate their research.”

The federation will be working closely with participating scholarly associations to determine the best online option, and ensure that they are equipped to successfully host their conference via a virtual platform.

“While a gathering on Western’s campus would have been the preferred forum for the programming we have been developing for many months, the current public-health crisis makes it impossible this year,” said Jeff Tennant, Academic Convenor of Congress 2020. “It is our hope that a virtual Congress 2020 will serve as a starting point for the many conversations on this year’s theme within the humanities and social sciences community.”