Report on EASP Meeting: Language Challenges in the 21st Century
22.07.2019, by Tina Keil in meeting report
June 20th-22nd, 2019, Warsaw, Poland; Organizers: Karolina Hansen & Magdalena Skrodzka (University of Warsaw), Janin Roessel (University of Manheim), Megan Birney (University of Chester), Tamara Rakić (Lancaster University)
From 20th to 22nd June, 2019, thirty-six scholars gathered in Warsaw, Poland to discussed the topic of ‘Language Challenges in the 21st Century’. The aim of the meeting was to give attention to the role that language places in fostering and perpetuating identity, interpersonal and intergroup conflict in an increasingly globalised world. Furthermore, the meeting aimed at bringing together researchers from different countries and interdisciplinary backgrounds working on language-related topics in one place to facilitate the exchange of research findings and ideas. Based on the meeting, a special issue within the Journal of Language and Social Psychology is planned to come out within 2020. This will include some of the original scholarly work that has been presented during the meeting.
Of the 36 researchers who participated in the meeting, 8 were PhD students, 25 were women, and 22 were EASP members. Participants came from 15 different countries: Canada (4), Croatia (2), Denmark (1), France (1), Germany (6), Israel (2), Italy (1), Netherlands (2), Norway (1), Poland (6), Portugal (1), Spain (1), Switzerland (1), UK (5), USA (2).
The meeting was spread across three days with keynotes on each day and symposia and poster presentations taking place on the second and the third day. Overall, there were 5 symposia (with 4 speakers each) and 2 poster sessions (with 5 posters each). Topics covered a diverse range of areas, populations, languages, and methods. Thematically these were grouped into: ”Exploring Contextual Language Varieties - New Methods, Questions, and Challenges”, “Language and Intergroup Perception”, “Language Attitudes and Biases”, “Language and Immigration”, “Language Attitudes and Bias Reduction”, “Linguistic Bias and Hate Speech”, “Language Bias and Methodologies”. Presentations from the keynote speakers complemented the program. Topics covered the impact of language policies on majorities and minorities (Richard Bourhis), the desensitization and normalization of hate speech (Michał Bilewicz), and a developmental psychology perspective on language as a social category (Katherine Kinzler).
The meeting’s aim to provide a platform for an exchange of international researchers investigating different facets of language was successful. The quality of presentation was high and the sessions provided a lot of scope for discussion. Additionally, there was plenty of time during the breaks and the evening meals to take individual discussions further. At the end of the meeting, participants broke into smaller groups to discuss future directions centered on focal topics of interest. One overarching outcome will be the creation of a virtual exchange platform to facilitate collaborations and exchanges between researchers interested in language and social psychology. The aim behind this initiative is to share new methodologies, research and teaching materials. Further initiatives and networking possibilities were discussed to increase the visibility of language—omnipresent in our lives in its overt and subtle forms—within social psychology. The special issue based on meeting contributions is already in progress.
Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive. All respondents of a short after-conference survey indicated that they would like to see a similar event being organized in the future. All of the ratings were obtained on a 10-point scale, ranging from 1 (not at all) to 10 (very much). While there were some concerns about the arranged accommodation, respondents indicated that they would be very likely to encourage others to attend such meeting (M = 9.42), and overall, they were very satisfied about the meeting (M = 9.26). Additionally, scientific quality (M = 8.68) and overall cohesive message of the meeting (M = 8.89) have been also rated high. Below are some quotes extracted from this survey that was circulated via e-mail to all participants:
“I really appreciated the organisation of poster talks, the training of small groups in which to discuss with colleagues on specific topics, the creation of a network of European researchers on language and social psychology.”
“Thank you very much for all your work and effort in organising this event! You did an amazing job and I am very grateful that I was given the opportunity to participate in the conference. “
“I think the selected papers were enriching and somehow relevant for any of us. I liked the fact that there was only one panel at the time and we all stay pretty much in the same place (more chances to share ideas / give feedback).”
“Enough time for each presentation (including enough time for discussion); short presentations of the posters; enough time for more informal exchange in coffee breaks, lunch breaks, etc.; excellent and sustainable catering.”
We would like to thank everyone for the inspiring exchange, the EASP for funding the meeting, and the University of Warsaw for additional support for hosting this meeting.