The world in which we find ourselves is not one many of us could have imagined the last time most of us gathered at the last HSA conference or at the Autumn Lecture held in Cardiff last year. We have all faced, and continue to face, professional and personal challenges that are diverse in the extreme. At our recent Annual General Meeting I provided an update on our work over the last 12 months alongside colleagues who gave updates on our financial standing and immediate priorities; the minutes from the meeting will be available shortly. The Executive Committee are in the process of developing a plan for how we can deliver our Annual Conference this year as well as the various other events that we organise, facilitate and fund. We will be in a position to make an announcement by July at the latest about this.
The Housing Studies Association is fundamentally a membership organisation. It is run by members for members but exists within a wider academic and policy environment. In this context of these current challenges, there are two areas where we would like your input around how we can best meet the needs of the membership and the housing studies community more broadly.
Our members will have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and we would like to hear from you on what you would like from us as a membership organisation in light of this. Is there a role for the HSA to play in enabling research agendas to be pursued here? Is there a role for the HSA to support individuals in staying connected with housing colleagues through more informal means? What space should we fill in this context? At a Committee level we have discussed achieving a balance between providing for our membership, but not creating additional pressure around research productivity. Please let us know your thoughts on this in terms of broad approach or specific ideas.
We are committed to working with our members, and our wider networks, to continue to promote a supportive, diverse and inclusive learned society across all our activities and events. We need to look at how we can better respond to the ongoing racism and inequality that Black Lives Matter has highlighted, as well as improving inclusivity and diversity within our own organisation. We know there is work to do here including: making more proactive steps to diversify our membership, thinking about the sorts of events we should fund, shaping our strategic aims and putting tangible plans in place will be an issue for the Committee in the coming months. However, we would like to invite you – member or non-member - to tell us about how you feel we can improve as an organisation and better support the housing studies community within the context of structural inequalities and unconscious biases.
We cannot promise to be able to act on all suggestions but we will commit to implementing as many as possible. We are keen to hear about activities you feel the Association should be focussing on at the current time. Are there things we could be doing better? Are there activities you feel would make a real difference?
We will be reaching out to current members, and the wider communities, in the next couple of weeks to seek your views and input via a survey. In the meantime I would encourage anyone to get in touch with me directly to share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.
Phil Brown Chair, Housing Studies Association on behalf of the Executive Committee