I’ve been reminded frequently over recent months that, in the International Studies community in the UK, one of the ways we seem to measure our age is in BISA conferences. As BISA celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, recollections abound about panels, discussions and memorable spectacles (of, ahem, varying kinds) in its conference history, reminding us of the place that BISA has occupied in the profession for the last four decades. I am especially privileged and honoured to take over the role of chairing BISA at this moment in its history, and look forward to the next two years of working with our Vice-Chair, Professor Richard Whitman, our CEO, Gail Birkett, and the rest of the team of Officers and Trustees of BISA.
Our thanks and congratulations are due to the outgoing Chair, Professor Theo Farrell, who initiated a very exciting period for BISA during his tenure with the establishment of our new journal, the European Journal of International Security, which is to be published, alongside the Review of International Studies, by Cambridge University Press. The journal will release its first issue in 2016, but will be a very visible presence at this year’s 40th Anniversary Conference in London as the editors, led by Professor Tim Edmunds, prepare for its launch. We have planned a large reception event to mark both the establishment of EJIS and to celebrate the selection of the new team of editors of RIS, which Dr Ruth Blakeley and her team will take over next year from the very successful outgoing editorial team, led by Professor Kim Hutchings. We look forward very much to seeing you all at the conference, and hope that you will join us at the various keynote events and receptions we are organising to celebrate the 40th anniversary.
What of BISA’s direction for the next couple of years? Since 1 January, the new team has put its best foot forward in looking closely at what BISA provides for its members and for the profession across the board of our activities. We will shortly be announcing a series of new prizes to recognise the diverse forms of achievement and excellence in International Studies. We are exploring new ways of supporting research in our discipline, including by working with our existing Working Groups and encouraging the establishment of different kinds of research and project networks, and making small pump-priming grants available to support BISA members in charting innovative and exciting new directions in their individual and collaborative research. We are about to launch a new blog, International Studies Today, which aims to provide a forum for the exchange of research and teaching knowledge in the field, and to build a bridge between scholarly and practitioner communities. Meanwhile, we are building BISA’s capacity to represent the profession in public and policy debate, and we are looking afresh at BISA’s national and international partnerships with other professional associations, to explore the best ways of fostering greater collaboration and dialogue with International Studies scholars across the world.
This is just a flavour of some of our priorities for the coming period, and there will be an opportunity as well for you to tell us what you think of what we do, and comment on our plans for the future. We look forward to life after 40!
Professor Nicola Phillips
Chair of the British International Studies Association