Vienna, 17 May 2020
Dear members of the EASST community, dear colleagues and friends,
I hope this letter finds you well in these difficult and complex times. COVID-19 has actually transformed from a standard introductory sentence into one which points directly to the importance to care for each other.
I am writing this letter to give our membership a clearer idea of where developments are going in our community, in particular with regard to the – now virtual – EASST/4S conference in Prague (https://www.easst4s2020prague.org/). I will keep calling it “the Prague conference” as much of the thinking, preparing and caring has a place and many of the lines of work that happen in 4S and EASST council across many countries all come together there and are turned into the reality of a meeting in Prague. In particular Tereza Stöckelova and Filip Vostal have been working relentlessly to not only make this special event happen under such experimental conditions, but to make it happen in the best possible ways.
In fact, well before COVID-19 transformed the world in which this conference should have happened, we were thinking how we could create a conference which could give more space to virtual elements, as increasing concerns were raised among our membership and beyond about the environmental sustainability of our conference travelling. As was already visible in the submission process, we offered – under specific limitations – the possibility to join the event from all parts of the world without needing to physically travel there. This was well accepted and I am sure we will continue to think about these aspects, and how to institutionally support them, during the conference and in the future (see also the statement of EASST Council on COVID-19 http://easst.net/covid19-easst-council-statement-and-call/).