The COVID-19 pandemic has forced academic conferencing online. As we emerge from the pandemic, we mustn’t return to the ‘old normal’.
Why it matters: Even before the pandemic, we knew that something had to change in terms of academic conferences. Climate and environment conferences, in particular, increasingly aware of the hypocrisy of flying thousands of people across the world to discuss the state of the climate. However, the big counter-argument was that there wasn’t really an effective alternative. The COVID-19 pandemic forced all of us online, and actually spurred a huge amount of learning and innovation on how to gather productively and effectively online.
At a university like McGill, close to 15% of emissions are linked to academic travel. Achieving the university’s net-zero aims (as with the ambitions at many other Canadian universities) requires dramatically reducing that figure or buying sometimes-dubious carbon offsets.
There’s a fast-growing body of reflections and insights emerging from the 2020/2021 experience of working online. It captures the “better” and the “worse” of these experiences, and we need to pull those lessons together.
Read the full University Affairs article in English or en français.