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Professor Marieke de Goede started her term as academic director of the AISSR on 1 December 2020. We Zoomed in with her to discuss priorities, implications of Covid, and her own research.

You started your term on the first of December. What are your first impressions?

“My first impressions are that the AISSR is doing extremely well and is in excellent shape. Not just in terms of all the wonderful research that is being done, but the AISSR is financially sound and also a vibrant and supportive community”.

How are you connecting to that community, while starting your new position from home?

“I know I’m not the only one who started a new job or position during the pandemic. What we are learning more and more is that it is much easier to move things online that you are already familiar with. I do very much miss the positive energy from live interaction, but we also don’t lose time on commuting and we might be more efficient altogether. But if you start a new position and try to get to know new people, this is much harder online. In teaching or other group interactions, I am wondering how the online dynamics are impacting participants’ ability to speak up and raise questions, and how it might be exclusionary.”

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So I’ll do my very best to support, in return, all new staff. We have to be extra careful and make sure they feel connected and find their way in the organization

How has corona impacted your own research?

“I was lucky that my ERC project FOLLOW: Following the Money from Transaction to Trial is in its final stages. Most team members had completed their fieldwork, so we were slightly less impacted than others. Nevertheless, it has been hard and we needed to improvise. Some fieldwork like court observations were disrupted, and conferences were cancelled. It is not just about fieldwork being affected, but also about career impacts and mental wellbeing more broadly.

But we also had some new opportunities, as from home it is easier to connect people beyond the Netherlands. In one of our networks we were able to have an online advice session with the new president of the Financial Action Task Force, with researchers from all over the world”.

What is your advice for more junior staff dealing with the pandemic?

“One thing that I want to do is help them learn from the best practices of others and offer resources. We are planning an AISSR online mini-series on these themes. A piece of advice is to be honest: you need to be as honest and precise as possible with your supervisors on how corona is impacting you and your project. Many early career researchers feel hesitant to share obstacles and challenges, but try to be open about it. Generating a discussion within your supervisory team will help in addressing challenges.

We are in a historical moment where the very nature of academic work is being reinvented and we have to be explicit about it. In my project  for example, we were able to move some interviewing online. But you still need to think about questions such as: what do I gain and lose with online interviewing? How are my ethical considerations changing by moving online? What does it mean to change research strategies now?

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Research teaching, meetings and conferences will never be the same. We are in a moment of condensed change and transition. So speak up about it, learn from other people’s failures and successes, and keep an eye out for the events we will be offering on this topic

When did you decide to apply for the position as academic director?

“For the past 2 years or so I’ve been thinking about the best way to contribute to the community. Research is where I have most to give and what excites me most. On top of that, I value the AISSR a lot, and I have benefitted from its support structures; its interdisciplinarity. I’m excited to help continue and strengthen that. It’s a combination of enthusiasm for the institute, my own feeling that this where I have most to give on the basis of my own experiences, and also, I guess, getting to a point in my career where it is OK to facilitate others, more than working on my own publications.”

What will be your priorities during your term as academic director?

“There are some points for attention for all of us during the years to come. The Covid-crisis is a main priority and ongoing concern for me, especially when it comes to the impact on early career researchers. I expect that in the next years, we will be having more discussions on diversity and social safety in the university: better procedures are being developed by the faculty, and we need to create more awareness. Another issue we will pay attention to, is ethics and academic integrity. We will need to pay even more attention to ethical clearance of all projects. We also haven’t fully dealt with the implications of GDPR. Those are some of the issues that I’ll be paying more attention to.”

How do you see our role as institute beyond academia?

“I just stepped down as academic chair of SPUI25. It is wonderful to bring academic knowledge to a broader community. I am convinced that people want more than polarized, soundbite-like information, but the kind of in-depth analysis that we can offer. It is valuable to have that kind of engagement of the academic world with society at large, through events but also policy advice and stakeholder engagement. What we do at the AISSR is highly relevant, as the pandemic once again showed. I hope we will be able to do even more of that in 2021. And I look forward to the upcoming year and to get to know everyone at the AISSR even better!”

Prof. dr. M. (Marieke) de Goede

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Programme group: Transnational Configurations, Conflict and Governance