Megan Palmer – Programme Manager, LSE IDEAS Central and East-Europe Programme
When I joined the Ratiu Forum in January this year, I could not have imagined the catastrophe the world was about to experience. In mid-March the London School of Economics and Political Science, home of our Programme at LSE IDEAS, closed our offices and we have not yet returned. All events, along with teaching and examinations, were cancelled. We now work from home and hold meetings online – in some cases it is a hindrance, but it is also an opportunity to embrace new ways to maintain communities online.
The most difficult decision for all of us was the cancellation of the in-person Dialogues on Democracy event, which was scheduled to take place on 1-2 June. Held in honour of the memory and legacy of Ion Ratiu, the annual Dialogues event holds particular significance for the family and the Programme. We are very sorry about the disappointment caused for the many people who had booked for this event.
The 2020 Dialogues on Democracy event will now take place as an online event. On 15th-18th September LSE IDEAS and the Ratiu Forum will hold a series of discussions by world-experts in their fields on some of the key issues we face as democratic societies. Speakers will include Professor Michael Burleigh (LSE IDEAS), the eminent journalist John Lloyd (Oxford Reuters Institute of Journalism), and Professor Janne Haaland Mátlary (University of Oslo). We will release more information and registration details very soon.
I am delighted to say that we are also beginning a new series of online discussions, “20:20 Visions: conversations on the future of democracy”. In the first talk, ‘Will Democracy Survive in Poland, Hungary and Serbia?’, we welcome three experts to our online forum to explore the democratic challenges presented by COVID-19 to Central Europe and the Balkans. Future talks will examine migration to and from the region, relations with the European Union, and Balkan geopolitics.
We remain committed to delivering our full programme of events and look forward to the time when it is safe to come together in person. The safety of every member of our community is paramount, however, and so until then we will remain online. I hope that you will join us for these exciting events – don’t forget to follow us online at the Ratiu Forum website, Twitter and Facebook. In the meantime, I hope you all stay safe and well.