October 5, 2020
Dear SSWR members,
Over the past six months, the SSWR Board of Directors has watched the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects globally and nationally. In particular, the Board has been monitoring the pandemic’s impact on San Francisco, the site of SSWR’s 2021 Annual Conference, “Social Work Science for Social Change.”
Despite the pandemic’s progression, we were determined to hold a conference worthy of our membership. But your health and safety were our top priorities. After much consideration and planning, the Board has decided to make the SSWR 2021 Annual Conference a completely virtual one. We believe that this is the most responsible decision.
Though a virtual conference will not provide the same exciting in-person experience we have known, the SSWR Conference Committee is planning for a virtual conference that will reflect the spirit of our organization. The conference committee is developing an energizing conference program with an outstanding roster of keynote and plenary speakers; abstract-based research presentations; and interactive knowledge-sharing sessions. Our mission is to make the conference a place for attendees and presenters to engage in rich conversations and exchange ideas. We are finalizing the conference program and organizing the many components of a virtual conference.
We made a slight change in our conference dates. The new conference dates are Wednesday, January 20 through Friday, January 22, with pre-conference workshops and capacity building sessions held on Tuesday, January 19. We made this shift in recognition of the responsibilities members carry, and the need for weekends for rejuvenation and breaks from virtual engagement. A tentative sketch of the conference is available here. We plan to communicate more details on the virtual conference, status of abstract submissions, and instructions for presenting authors in the coming weeks.
I want to add that switching to a virtual conference has not affected SSWR financially. We were able to arrange with the San Francisco Hilton to hold our 2027 at their facility.
As we all know, with crises come opportunities. The SSWR Board is very excited by this new challenge. Holding a virtual conference means that more social work researchers around the world will be able to participate. It also offers an opportunity to find and experiment with novel approaches for future SSWR conferences and ongoing learning. These are fitting challenges and opportunities as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of SSWR’s Annual Conference.
Wishing you and your families health and safety,
Luis H. Zayas, PhD