What have you been doing in the holidays?

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When I was small, on return to school in September, we had to write an essay: ‘What I did in the summer holidays’.  So with apologies to ISI members in the southern hemisphere (maybe imagine it’s February?) I thought I would make this the theme of this ‘summer’ blog.

The WSC started the holiday season in July, and I am pleased to report that we had an attendance of nearly 1,600 delegates (from 105 countries) – a little less than I had hoped but probably understandable in the circumstances.  We are now analysing the results of the feedback survey, and it looks like those who attended much appreciated the Congress, and are looking forward to future ISI activities.

Immediately after the WSC, Pauline and I had a holiday away with our family, in the UK.  Like everywhere, international travel is not back to normal yet, and most people here are holidaying within the country.  We braved the usual uncertainties of the British summer and spent an enjoyable two weeks in the Derbyshire Peak District. 

You will be pleased to know that most of the ISI Permanent Office at The Hague, who had worked so hard at the WSC, also took a break in August.  Ada has been ‘minding the office’ and she and I have been working closely together to get the new Presidency underway – she will take her much needed break in September.

So what have Ada and I been up to?  Well, every two years at the WSC the members of the ISI Executive Committee (EC), the Council, as well as Association Presidents, change, and there have been induction sessions for the new members, and meetings to be timetabled through the coming year.  The EC, before the pandemic, met face-to-face three times a year, as well as having monthly calls.  It’s too soon yet to know if the face–to-face meetings will be possible, so we will have to be flexible.

With Peter Guttorp and Fabrizio Ruggeri leaving the EC, we have had to set up new leadership for the Public Voice Committee and the Statistical Capacity Building Committee – key priorities of our Strategic Plan.  The current ISI strategic plan comes to its end at the end of the year, and I am keen to have a revised draft to put before members in the New Year.  These two strategic priorities are key to our strategic plan, so I am keen to get these committees thinking about future plans as soon as possible.

We are also progressing work for WSC 2023 Ottawa.  I would like to get the Scientific Programme Committee formed in the next few weeks.  Also we have begun to talk to colleagues in Ottawa and started to think about how to include a virtual element, and begun to look at possible web platforms.  We will have a first discussion on some of the options at our EC call in September.

I attended a useful meeting with Presidents of other statistical societies, called Friends of CoPSS (CoPSS is the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies).  The issue we discussed that I want to share with you was on the diversity of statistical societies (age, gender and ethnicity).  For societies interested in statistics on this, we have very little data, so don’t know how representative we are.  Having said this, we don’t know these characteristics for our target population either – the population of statisticians across the world.  Ethnicity classifications tend to be national, and I don’t think an international classification exists.  We do collect gender from members, but age is voluntary.  It should be possible for us to know if our membership is getting older or younger.  Something for the new Exec to discuss.

So during the ‘holidays’ I have been sightseeing, harvesting, swimming and walking – seeing websites to assist us for WSC 2023; harvesting the results of the feedback survey from WSC 2021; swimming in a morass of emails; and walking steadily towards our first Executive Committee meeting in September.

I hope you have had a productive holiday too!



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