Did any such interaction occur as a result of those printed words in those previous Conversations? Perhaps some people contacted the writers directly and they had a private conversation. If that was the case, then that was brilliant. Or maybe, like me, you sat there and thought. Stimulating thoughts and ideas is an integral part of the EURA Conversations series, but the giveaway in the ultimate objective is in the title: Conversation.
As one of the editors and an author of earlier Conversations, I have had fascinating discussions with other authors and editors. We have discussed broadening or narrowing the terms of reference of the Conversation, or asked and answered questions of clarification about some of the content. It was a brilliant learning experience as an author and an editor. There have been clear conversations in the preparation of each submission. Yet, as I look back, I wonder if those conversations stop at the point of publication.
Was the aspiration of the EURA Conversations series to promote discussion and debate? I believe it was. Have we succeeded in developing such discussion and debate, or conversations? I don’t know.
It may be that people disagreed with what was written, and didn’t want to cause a kerfuffle. Okay, but why not ask questions of clarification? Why not be constructive in any criticism? Why not converse? This series is not about tearing down people’s thoughts and ideas. Rather, it is supposed to be about creating the space to have a conversation; a constructive exchange of ideas; a stimulus to create further interest. Perhaps this was done and the end result was the publication of quality research. We need to celebrate this as part of our conversations.
I think back to discussions when I was early in my career (in pre-internet times). While having coffee with colleagues, ideas were drawn up on the back of an envelope about plans for a book chapter. Such a brilliant thing for me as an early-career researcher; that conversation and exchange of ideas. Today, we have so much more sophisticated technology, and far greater opportunities to interact with people from around the world. Zoom and MS Teams (other platforms are available) have become the new ‘back of an envelope’. But to what extent are we actually having these conversations?
We have these conversations elsewhere. Think of the EURA Conferences (and all of the other organisations who hold similar) and the panels and papers at which you have attended. Be it as a convenor, a presenter, or a member of the audience, conversations have developed, through a simple ‘Question and Answer’ approach. Sometimes there have been disagreements, and even arguments (as I remember back at my first EURA conference), but there was a passion for the subject matter. There has also been a lot of constructive and helpful advice, which, for me at least, has always been appreciated.
EURA Conversations is one such platform for these exchanges. Maybe the layout of the platform was not the best. Who should raise that with the editorial team? Perhaps the topics included in the Conversations did not really appeal. Who should offer alternatives? There might be a fear around the responses to any such comments people present. The editorial team may need to clarify on the guidelines as to how the conversations might develop. It is, after all, about developing a conversation.
The thing with a conversation, as per the definition presented, is the informality and the exchange. All of our work – if not all of our careers, I suspect – have been built around having conversations. It’s informal, so we can’t ‘make’ you join in with the EURA Conversations. Instead, I ask you to consider this: when you have had an idea about a new project or a potential new partner to deliver a course with you, what have you done? I’d hazard a guess that you have had a conversation with someone. It may well have been someone you trust, or whose opinions you value. It is still a conversation. So why not share that here? Help others to develop their ideas in a positive and constructive manner.
Alternatively, offer your own starter for a Conversation to the editorial team. Explore that new idea among colleagues and friends. The EURA Conversations can be a valuable sounding board. As we re-launch the series, why not partake in conversation.