18 October 2021
On behalf of EISPS, I am very happy to welcome everyone back to UCL for the new academic year. And this year, I mean "back to UCL" more literally than ever before. For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, we are able to return to our campus in Bloomsbury and take up face-to-face teaching and other on-campus activities which we have missed out on. For this reason, I am convinced that this academic year will turn out to be much better than the last one. But having said that, we should all feel proud of what we have accomplished over the last year and a half. Despite the many obstacles and uncertainty that we faced, and the many extra hours of work that we had to put in, we did as well as we could in the circumstances, and we ensured that the 2020/2021 academic year was not a lost one by any means.
Of course, some things will have changed permanently. Out of necessity, most of us feel much more comfortable with videoconferencing than before, and there will be a significant role for it going forward. Working from home has become normalised in a way that it never was before. Academic members of staff have produced hundreds of hours of recorded video lectures, most of which will still be useful as supplementary teaching material.
But we have also discovered that some things just cannot be replicated online. There is inherent value in spending time together with friends, peers and colleagues, in free discussion where no one needs to remember to mute and unmute themselves, and in doing things together - whether it is having a coffee, going for a walk, or teaching and learning. I hope we will all manage to catch up with each other as often as possible this year. Let this be the year of the great "catch-up"!
With all good wishes,
Dr Mart Kuldkepp
Head of Department, EISPS.