WPSA Virtual Communities is a new initiative spearheaded by the WPSA Climate Action Committee to bring WPSA members and other academics together in virtual meeting rooms at regular intervals throughout the year. The program for the 2020-2021 academic year is an experimental pilot meant to inform decisions for a possible permanent initiative. We received 18 proposals to chair communities for the pilot program. More than 28 Co-Chairs are now collaborating to offer 10 independent Virtual Communities focused on the following areas:
• Critical Disability Studies
• Critical Whiteness Studies
• Decolonizing Political Science
• Embodied Social Change and Healing Justice
• Environmental Political Theory
• Inclusive Teaching and Pedagogy
• Peer-to-Peer Mentorship for Scholars of Politics, Groups, and Identities
• Planetary Justice
• Public Facing Scholarship: Women Also Know Stuff & The Voter Study Group
• Who Rules the Academy?
Each community will host meetings of various frequency and kind (ranging across research colloquia, workshops, reading groups, writing groups, pedagogy discussions, social hours, mentoring opportunities, and more) depending on the vision and contribution of its leaders and participants. Please visit the webpages for these communities for further details on their leadership, focus, intended participants, purpose, kinds of events planned, and how to access those events.
To see upcoming events for all Virtual Communities in one place, please visit the unified Calendar of Events at http://www.wpsanet.org/virtual/calendar.php. New events will be posted on this calendar and on individual Virtual Community pages as they are scheduled.
The primary goal of WPSA Virtual Communities is to provide additional opportunities for intellectual exchange beyond the yearly in-person conference. Such opportunities may be of particular benefit to those who find it difficult to travel to the conference because of distance, financial cost, time constraints, family obligations, holiday conflicts, personal and public health challenges, national and international travel restrictions, the carbon impact of air travel, or any other reason. Regardless of one’s ability to attend the in-person conference, though, WPSA Virtual Communities can also benefit members by enabling forms of scholarly engagement beyond those possible during a 3-day annual conference, democratizing accessibility to professional networks, broadening participation in WPSA, and providing more time and space to deepen intellectual exchange. In time, we hope that WPSA Virtual Communities will be part of a set of measures that simultaneously advance the professional aims of the WPSA, reduce the extent to which WPSA externalizes the climate-related costs of its activities, and lead the way towards lower-carbon forms of scholarly life.
In accordance with WPSA values, WPSA Virtual Communities will be inclusive, accessible, respectful, and welcoming. Virtual Communities will strive to actively support the professional development of members of historically disadvantaged groups within academia. Cognizant of the challenges entailed in connecting through the screen amidst the demands of ordinary life, Virtual Communities will aspire to nurture community ties by including space for socializing.
We expect to distribute one or more surveys during the pilot program, but please feel free to provide your input at any time. Please send feedback about specific Virtual Communities to the Co-Chairs for that Community. Please send feedback about the initiative in general and ideas for future versions to Cheryl Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We encourage you to explore this new way to connect with colleagues and develop your academic work, and we look forward to hearing your feedback!