Reconnecting

Rector's blog

It’s six months since I wrote the following in the last DevISSues in October 2021:

‘It is a wonderful and happy time. After over one and a half years we are going back to normal. But will we indeed go back to normal, the old normal? Or are we moving forward to a new normal? Moving from a liminal phase - an in-between period? Is it a transition? Can it be transformative?’

Little did I know then that corona would force us into yet another lockdown in December. There was no ‘going back to a new normal’; it was back to working from home. It’s only very recently that we’ve been able to work in the ISS building without asking permission to do so (hence, as ‘normal’) and meet one another again.

Yet I wonder whether we now really are going back to a new normal. It’s a very pleasant time, meeting each other again in-person, but it’s also a confusing time. Many of our meetings are still online or hybrid, and we only work a limited number of days from the ISS building. We are travelling again to conduct fieldwork but now in line with a clear university travel policy: in an effort to reduce our footprint, journeys of fewer than 700km are taken by train. ISS has expanded on this travel policy, emphasizing the concept of mindful travel: to carefully plan when to fly (and when not) when travelling further than those 700km. And our PhD defences are still hybrid.

So, certainly, we haven’t got back to the old normal.

It is also a strange time. Meeting each other in person, I realize how corona seems to have created ‘missing links’ between people. I can almost ‘see’ the new links developing; as pathways and connections between one another. We ‘reconnect’, re-bond and create new pathways of connection.  It is indeed not just returning to the old normal.

Reconnecting is also the theme of our 70th anniversary which we celebrate this year. We want to reconnect with each other at ISS and we want to reconnect with all of you in the world. A world that is quite different from two years ago with its changing geopolitical power relations, climate crisis, wars and conflicts.

The jigsaw puzzle of the ISS building, a present to all colleagues in 2021, and on which we worked together at the entrance of our building, was the inspiration for our lustrum logo: reconnecting with each other and with the world. We’ll be hosting a number of lustrum activities this year, most of them in October, the week around our Dies.

I am so much looking forward to reconnecting, to co-creating new pathways, to re-bonding.

Please join us in this effort!

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