One of the first decisions we made as organisers was to set English as the conference language. In this post, we want to share the impacts and intricacies of that choice.
The ‘obvious’ choice
Changing Worlds has its roots in the English-language international Master’s programme ‘Science–Technology–Society’ at the University of Vienna. This, coupled with our vision of creating a conference that would attract participants from abroad as well as Austria, made English the ‘obvious’ choice – we were simply used to treating English as matter-of-fact.
At the second Changing Worlds conference in 2015, we expected participants with a relatively wide range of backgrounds. These included not only demographic variables, but also individual biographies and socialisation in specific areas of life such as artists, activists, and academics (This list is not meant to imply that either of those three groups are homogenous in themselves). It meant that, in addition to questions of transgressive behaviour which we began to address in our ‘be nice’ policy, we felt that it might be helpful to make explicit that different participants might be used to different forms and formats of communication. Continue reading
We felt that setting a particular tone for the conference was an important step in trying to make participants feel at ease during the event. As part of this effort, we created a short ‘Be Nice!’ policy, which served two purposes. First, it emphasised that we were aware of potential issues that might arise at the conference, thereby trying to position the conference team as a supportive point of contact in case of problems. Second, it aimed to raise participants’ awareness of potentially problematic or harmful behaviours, thereby making these less likely. Continue reading