The new IMISCOE website and the IMISCOE Bulletin will provide a new online presence of our research network. However, we could not have foreseen that it would arrive into a new world. The Covid-19 crisis affecting our societies hard. Also, some of our IMISCOE institutes and some members have been hit particularly hard. Our primary focus now is to support our members in any way we can.
In the context of the Covid-19 crisis we are going from the old normal to what will be a new normal in a much-changed social world. A new normal in which virtual and online contacts will be more pertinent than ever before, where online presence is connected to online interaction and contacts. This is crucial for a research community as IMISCOE, not only because of Covid-19 but also for limiting our ecological footprint. In this sense, the new website and bulletin may have arrived into a new time, they have also arrived on time. They will be crucial tools for IMISCOE to continue to serve our migration scholarly community in the new normal.
The crisis will provide challenges to our research field as well as to our network. On a scholarly level, the crisis invokes a broad range of fundamental questions to be taken up by our community. What challenges does corona pose in terms of humanitarian protection, and how has it impacted migrant populations? What is the impact of the crisis on migration flows? How does the governance of the crisis affect inequalities? And many other questions that have been raised by migration scholars already over the past weeks. Our work on these matters is now more pertinent than ever before.
Although the network itself has also been affected by the Covid-19 crisis, it has also revealed its resilience. The 2020 annual conference which was to be held in Luxembourg has been moved to 2021. Also, the network is currently setting up its very first ever virtual IMISCOE conference. All the decision-making structures of IMISCOE have proven their raison d'être by showing how swift the network can take action under difficult circumstances. Our Board of Directors convened virtually for the first time in its history. The solidarity within the network has been heartwarming.
The new website and bulletin are also featuring the resilience of our network; an IMISCOE 2.0 that wishes to provide new ways for our members and member institutes to connect. This will carry the IMISCOE community spirit forwards in new ways. Thanks to the great work by Ricard Zapata Barrero and the External Affairs Committee, we now can offer a communication channel fitting for an IMISCOE 2.0. Whereas we first simply sent around emails to IMISCOE people, then later designed an IMISCOE newsletter and redesigned it several times, we now evolve towards an IMISCOE Bulletin that offers a more advanced tool and channel for communication and social interaction. But, the function of this IMISCOE Bulletin for the network will of course remain the same. It will enable us to share work, inspire each other and get to know each other better in the IMISCOE network.
In the old normal I would always have said that online platforms could never replace the actual contacts and exchanges during IMISCOE events. In the new normal, I would say that they provide at least additional tools for keeping up the IMISCOE spirit in the changed social world. And perhaps most of all, they offer a platform for exchange, dialogue and debate within the academic scholarly community of migration studies. I hope you will all feel invited and inspired to make use of it!