The following update was sent via email to all conference registrants on Thursday, March 12.
As you are aware, we sent a message yesterday about The Forum’s Annual Conference being moved to a virtual platform. We want to reiterate that the conference is NOT cancelled. Although we will not be coming together in Kansas City, we will make every effort to deliver to you the high quality sessions, sharing of best practices, and camaraderie that are hallmarks of The Forum’s conference in this virtual format.
In light of today’s designation of the global level 3 health advisory by the U.S. Department of State and the CDC, we recognize that many colleagues may not be able to prepare for and participate virtually in two weeks’ time. For this reason, we have decided to postpone the virtual conference for April 21-23, 2020. We expect that this postponement will give presenters additional time to prepare for the change in format, and give all of our attendees the much needed time to address the crises within which they are currently embroiled.
We will continue to update you with more information as it becomes available. We kindly ask for your patience as we work out the details and consider all of the components involved.
President & CEO
The Forum on Education Abroad
The following message was sent via email to all conference registrants on Wednesday, March 11.
I am writing to you today with the news that you probably saw coming, but we had hoped to avoid: The Forum’s Annual Conference will not be able to proceed as planned in Kansas City. We simply cannot justify risking the health of our attendees and that of our host community, with an in-person meeting.
The staff and I have looked at a dozen different options for hosting this conference and ultimately, we went back to the conference theme established by our conference committee: Education Abroad at a Crossroads: Actions for a Sustainable Future. It almost feels as though a golden opportunity has been dropped in our laps: So you want to have a conference focused on sustainability? Ok! Let’s force you to do it virtually!
Thank goodness, we have the benefit of a team of Forum staffers who have put every ounce of creativity they have into pivoting to a virtual conference. It wasn’t our first choice, but I think you will be pleasantly surprised at our solution. In partnership with VConference, The Forum’s 16th Annual Conference will occur completely online during its scheduled dates, March 25-27. Of course, this is a major departure from our usual format. The beauty of this platform is that all of you who are registered for the conference will still have the ability to choose between multiple sessions, visit our exhibit hall, and interact with your colleagues. I will miss seeing your faces in person, but I am 100% convinced that you will not only gain the benefit of The Forum’s hallmark high quality sessions, you will also benefit from the opportunity to view multiple, recorded sessions, during and after the conference. The site will remain live for 90 days so you can go in and view all of the sessions that you had not attended. If you are one of our many colleagues embroiled in endless COVID-19 meetings, you can go back and view the sessions at your leisure. You can also interact with exhibitors whose booths will be “live” for a full 90 days. You can even invite some of your colleagues to join you in a conference room and we’ll pretend we don’t know that you only signed up for one registration!
With regard to next steps, you should cancel your hotel reservations directly with the hotel. Please also note that The Forum’s conference refund policy remains in effect. More information about the virtual platform will be forthcoming as we finalize those details, and subsequent email communications will be sent with updates and instructions for accessing the virtual conference. Forum staff will communicate directly with all of our valued presenters, sponsors and exhibitors within the next 24 hours to provide instructions and assistance with preparations. We appreciate your patience as Forum staff works diligently to prepare and make all of the necessary arrangements to offer this conference virtually.
We know this is not the answer that some of you were hoping for, but these are not the normal times that any of us would have predicted just a few short months ago. I’m looking forward to interacting with all of you in a new and different environment, and I’m excited by the opportunity to share the highest quality, most advanced presentations and discussions available in education abroad anywhere in the world. We think this virtual conference could be a way to further our equity and diversity commitment by engaging colleagues who cannot travel to future events due to resource limitations, visa restrictions, or other issues. It is, of course, purely accidental that our sustainability theme happens to coincide with the need for a virtual conference. Nevertheless, Plato taught us that “necessity is the mother of invention” and it is a lesson we are embracing to the fullest! Please join us and your education abroad colleagues for some much-needed camaraderie, a sharing of best practices and common challenges, and of course, a discussion about COVID-19, the new 6th edition of the Standards of Good Practice, and so much more!
President & CEO
The Forum on Education Abroad