Dear Colleagues and Friends,
As we wrap up what has been an immensely difficult year for people around the world, on behalf of the entire IAFOR community, I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2021.
Earlier in December of 2020, the very first coronavirus vaccinations were given in the UK, marking the beginning of a worldwide programme of mass vaccinations. The various vaccines have been developed at great speed and are a testament to the collaboration of many different scientists and policy makers across the world. Human ingenuity, combined with science and learning, has proven it can address the most daunting of challenges. However, as educators, we must make sure that we learn the many lessons that this year will have taught us, chiefly that it is we humans who got ourselves into this trouble in the first place.
While we are right to live in hope and with the possibilities of technology, many of the things that we have come to take for granted over the past decades, such as cheap, easy and reliable travel between countries, has become questioned as different nations have responded to the global health crisis in different ways, each impacting local societies, economies, communities, and many individual lives. The pandemic also starkly frames global inequalities.
For the academic community, perhaps the most important thing that this crisis will have taught us is that the freedoms that we hold so close, such as those of expression and movement in a globalised world, bring to the fore questions of transparency and governance on an international level. This serves to remind us that questions of human security and public policy, as they relate to such issues as health, climate change, pollution, and individual rights and responsibilities, do not happen in sovereign vacuums, but instead impact other nation-states. If one country is not as transparent as it otherwise might be, then the repercussions are not only domestic, but frequently felt across borders. In a globalised world, it follows that our problems are increasingly global, entangled, and enmeshed.
For those who would argue that this crisis provides evidence that authoritarian regimes are better placed to deal with crises of this magnitude, it must be underlined that they are certainly better at creating such crises. The global curtailment of freedoms and effective mass incarcerations, including the marginalising of dissenting voices in the name of social cohesion, has been a worrying part of the “new normal”. As a planet, we are now collectively writing the new normal. Let that writing be free and true, open and honest.
Never has it been more important to encourage concerted cooperation at all levels between countries in order to seek solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. As one such platform, and as we begin to regroup and realign, the coronavirus will likely continue to influence our personal and professional lives.
We thank you for your continued support of IAFOR, and look forward to working with you all on this global project to write the future. We can’t do it without you!
Happy New Year!
Dr Joseph Haldane
Chairman and CEO, IAFOR