I had the pleasure of meeting educator and author Parker Palmer many years ago. He said that the role of a teacher is to create a space where students can learn. I thought about Palmer’s comment when I reflected on the role of a statistical society and conferences that it hosts. I like that ‘creating space’ contains two meanings – the act of creating space for some purpose and the space itself where a creative act occurs.
The current ISI Strategic Plan highlights 4 priorities:
- encourage statistical communication and networking;
- increase the public voice of statistics;
- develop statistical capacity;
- secure our financial stability.
While ISI leadership references these priorities when decisions are being made, how does this connect to creating space?
The World Statistics Congress, Association conferences, and Regional Statistical Conferences are all spaces that we create to bring our community together to grow as professionals, to connect as friends and to mentor and encourage new members of our community. As you now have heard, the ISI WSC 2021 will be held virtually. After evaluating risks to the meeting and the best way to manage these risks, a virtual meeting was the clear choice. Now our challenge is to create a virtual space that will be attractive, welcoming, professionally enriching and personally engaging.
We will create a space for you to learn at the WSC 2021. The scientific program committee will be crafting a program that includes live, streamed sessions at a time that works for colleagues around the world (although our friends on the west coast of the United States and Canada might need to wake up a little early and our friends in Asia and the western Pacific might need to stay up a little late) along with pre-recorded content. We will create spaces for you to connect with colleagues at the WSC. We are exploring ways to encourage networking and more casual conversations along with formal sessions in the scientific program.
Our IASC colleagues held a successful Data Science and Statistical Visualization virtual conference last month, and our friends at the ASA and IBS held virtual conferences recently as well. We will consult with our colleagues to integrate lessons learned from their experience.
ISI is also working to create spaces to increase the public voice of statistics and to develop statistical capacity. The recent launch of the “Statisticians React to the News” blog represents one contribution to the public voice space. The upcoming plan to develop and deliver webinars in support of statistical capacity building. Stay tuned for more details.
Let me close this reflection on “creating space” with an invitation to each of you. What can you do in your community to create the space for better communication of statistics? For better networking with colleagues? For better appreciation of statistics by the public? For greater development in statistical capacity? For helping to secure the future of ISI? I look forward to you joining me and your ISI colleagues in this important work.
John Bailer (@john_bailer)
10 August 2020