January 11, 2021

2020: A Year of Reflection and Dedication

Dear RC33 members,

I hope this letter finds you well. I had so many expectations for 2020, but none of them came true. It seemed such a beautiful number: 2020. For years we had been planning the RC33 conference on Cyprus to be held in September 2020. But Covid-19 caught us by surprise.

It is such a strange virus. Personally, my family was hit twice. The first time, only one member of my household – my father-in law- was hit. And although he is a senior, he had little to no problems and no one else in the family got infected. So you wonder how easily it spreads and how serious it is. I came to realize two months later, when another family member, perfectly abiding to all Covid-19 regulations, became infected. Within a week half of my family got infected, including my aunt who had to go to hospital within a couple of days. She had to be sedated, and worse, she had to travel -while being sedated- across the Netherlands several times because of the lack of IC beds. Unbelievable how the same disease can be nothing more than a little headache for one, but a struggle for life for another.

It made me realize we made a good decision to postpone our conference in Cyprus. This was such a hard decision. We decided to postpone rather than to do the conference online, since many of us look forward to meeting each other face to face in Cyprus. However, this decision also resulted in the lack of any RC33 activities in 2020 (since the Forum was also postponed to an online version in February 2021), and as a result, lack of memberships.

When I write this letter, we still do not know if we can proceed with a face to face conference in Cyprus in September 2021. Fortunately there is a vaccine, but it is difficult to predict health circumstances in September across the world. In addition, how comfortable are our colleagues to travel? What I can promise you is that we will only proceed with the conference when we are convinced it is safe. It may involve some new rules (e.g. have fewer people in a room, with a lot of sanitizer), but we will do everything we can to have a safe environment. But I hope I can speak for you when I say, that I feel a great need to meet. Not only to learn from your work in the past years, but also just to meet. I has been too long.

The spread of Covid-19 and its related consequences had also a huge impact on science, in particular the social sciences. This year social science has received a new impulse, because when has our research ever become more important? Covid-19 has disrupted countries and economies around the world and drastically changed the ways in which we live and work. Will these effects be temporary, or do we take the opportunity to regain a better live once the immediate threat recedes? I believe social scientists have a powerful role to play in the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Let’s proceed with giving the world analyses and insights to help guide and target insights to policy makers and develop solutions that people are able ánd willing to follow through on. In a time of a worldwide vaccination program, sharing knowledge about human behavior has never been so important.

I hope you keep supporting RC33 as a loyal member,

Your president,

Vera Toepoel

Leave a Reply