2020 Winter Forum: Resilience in uncertain times

2020 Winter Forum: Resilience in uncertain times EAIE Forum

2020 Winter Forum is now accepting submissions. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and more generally the tumultuous times international education has experienced in recent years, this issue of the EAIE member magazine with contemplate the idea of ‘resilience’ and what it means for individuals, institutions and the field as a whole.  

Anxiety, adversity and ambiguity present each of us with particular kinds of challenges. Such stressors also prompt in each of us unique and varied responses. As we face the difficulties around us – from the daily and the mundane, to the global and potentially existential – most of us aspire to craft responses that allow us to ‘rise above’. Who doesn’t want to come through an especially difficult period having learned to adapt in ways that push us to new levels of insight and performance?

From our perspective, emerging stronger and smarter in the face of adversity could be distilled down to one key notion: resilience. At the EAIE, we think resilience is a vital topic for the field of international education to consider in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic in particular presents enormous near- to longer-term challenges for the vast majority of our institutions, our higher education systems and our societies at large. To this end, the next issue of Forum is asking us to collectively contemplate what resilience really means. How are our past and current experiences shaping that understanding? What does a resilient future look like? And how can we instil in ourselves, our stakeholders and our field at large habits of mind and action that keep us continuously agile and adaptable?

Considering context

As we consider the topic of resilience, we are keen to showcase articles that explore dynamics at a variety of levels. Resilience can be understood in terms of the experience of individuals, programmes or institutions, countries or entire regions. For example, what should we be thinking about right now when it comes to resilience among students, teaching staff or administrative actors? In what ways are our international cooperation projects or academic mobility programmes challenged to adapt to changing circumstances, and how can they achieve this? What kinds of resilience do we wish for or foresee among national or international organisations and other actors?

Resilience can also be considered in very different contexts, spanning both time and place. So, what can we learn about resilience by examining past challenges our field has addressed? Are there lessons learned from the past that we can apply to our new situation today? Are there perspectives on resilience in Europe that can be enriched by looking through the lens of challenges faced in other regions of the world? Does resilience look different in different kinds of institutional or national contexts? Articles that explore resilience in these areas would add welcome dimensions to our coverage in this issue.

The notion of resilience can sound rather abstract, and indeed we should care about some of the ‘big ideas’ that frame this topic. For example, it’s worth our while to critically examine the extent to which the values and principles that we say we hold dear in the field of international education are, in fact, resilient under pressure. But actions are powerful, too. To this end, we would warmly welcome submissions that provide some concrete examples of how the adversity we face today can be leveraged for new and innovative approaches to the work of international education. What evidence exists from the past of this kind of creative response to crisis? What new possibilities exist now to adjust our ways of thinking and acting that result in tangible changes to ‘business as usual’?

Share your insights

All of us are currently working intensely to manoeuvre through exceedingly uncertain times. By putting our collective effort into a consideration of the topic of resilience, hopefully we can generate constructive ideas for pioneering ways forward, grounded in meaningful lessons from the past and creative inspiration for a better tomorrow. We hope you’ll share your thoughts with us by submitting an article for this very special issue of Forum by 3 August.

Laura E. Rumbley
EAIE, the NetherlandsLaura is Associate Director of Knowledge Development and Research at the EAIE.