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Impressions of the Future of WOP day at the EAWOP Conference 2019

Updated: Jun 27, 2019


When France is on my right, the left side is working, a hot and sweaty train through Paris, remainders of what will be and what has been, through these years, and we will see, here in Torino, I feel stuck in Lingotto, the conference center, but I also have little intention to leave the humongous building, half a kilometer of race track, with no apparent need to escape the building, just stepping out of it, from the hotel to the conference rooms, not even needed to leave the building with the interlocking of rooms and hallways, one leads me into the other, a semi-secret key to reach the roof, here is a lift in the desertedness of shops, empty spaces as reminiscences of Torino 2006, but I cannot remember anything of 2006 in the destruction of 2008, the crisis that emptied the streets, people are smoking on the stairs, locals, smoking in the coolness of the evening or upcoming heat of the summer, the heat is present and surrounds us, to touch it in the sunlight, that is what EAWOP in the South is, when it dares to leave the bitter, cold North of rainy Mays and little hope for sunshine into the wild of the industrial structure, it embraces us, it occupies us in the form and the dividedness, one corridor here, and one in the back, two worlds that have been parted, and nothing than the auditorium in the middle ground, the silent voices touched upon by the orchestra, baroque and expected, light-hearted classic variation of the familiar tune, how appropriate in this room, the auditorium which feels underground, modernist architecture winking to what has been, exemplified in the Fiat taxi to the hotel, a duty of care to the city by the taxi drivers, a plea to localization from traffic light to traffic light, stop and go, this is the EAWOP conference, our beloved meeting of minds, the recognition of a united Europa and the promise of a new generation, when the writer lays his eyes upon the crowd and is called upon with the formal ‘u’ by a fellow country man from the Netherlands, not the familiar and informal ‘jij’, a problem forgotten in the necessity of ‘you’, but we feel younger and younger these days, we walk the streets of Torino and we dine in Eataly, we eat the ice-cream from the shop across the street, we carry our posters and hang them up, we click our presentations until the end, and our heads turn for the red lanyards, they are everywhere and sitting, talking, drinking and eating, mute and laughing, staring into the void of a day passing by, the smiling face of something that has always been in between holiday and work, our need to redefine our own walls built up for validity and replicability, when we know that nothing ever repeats as we see it all over and over again, time and again, the harbinger comes, with fear and destruction, when we bow our heads and listen, this is just the beginning of the day, an excellent espresso to wake up, to be woken, and the EAWOP conference this year is merely the dessert after the main course of the Future of Work and Organizational Psychology Day, 70 people present, from across Europe and beyond, US, Canada and India, we took the day and put ourselves into two small rooms and followed up on Breda, our last year meeting where we discussed the future of our field, and where we formed our manifesto, our vision statement to our colleagues and the world, our words expressed in what we convey, this is what we will show our children when they ask what we have done for our world, as a psychologist and academic, we put our words on paper and tell ourselves that words are never empty but always rich and meaningful, they entail a promise, a possibility, these are the words we will tell each time, because we are the new generation, and we will stand up, we can no longer assume that our words have to be the same as our teachers, that we will have to find our own voice, that we explore our opportunities in our own meetings, we gather before the EAWOP conference and talk about that what rises in our minds, we will talk about our internalized need to reflect and offer an inspiring critique, we will talk about our methods of working and researching and we will escape the terror of the moderated-mediation model which acts as our imposed way of looking at the world, we will talk about equality in academia and the ways we men perpetuate existing inequalities to suffer for what we are not, to let suffer what cannot be truly real, here in this glaring whiteness, I need a touch of real, and surround me, let us then talk about health, dignity and well-being in academia, who will speak of it during the EAWOP, and here we gather so many people, and we have so many plans, we do not hesitate to raise our voice and to say what no one has said or will say at the EAWOP conference, we break the silence and we will break our boundaries of the mind, where we can envision an academia that works for everyone, a university that prioritizes learning, a university where intellectual and personal development of students is truly central, a university that prioritizes the dignity and well-being of their staff, of their students, of citizens in our countries, of individuals in the workplace, and we put our words in our manifesto, the only way we can resolve our degenerating democracies is to do democracy better and not to submit to authoritarianism, not to surrender ourselves to the voice of hierarchy without questioning, we have to enact our agency, and refind our constructive dialogue and engage in meaningful conversations, that what was taking place in these two rooms in Lingotto, with an intensity that was bordering with overload and exhaustion, we feel the pressure to act, but there is simply too much to do, and we capture the heat in this room, sometimes it just feels too much, we need a break, like my four-year old son announces a ‘time-out’ during playing, he starts to reflect, we need to reflect, let it sink in, there is this future upon us, and while this started as a discussion, as a way to initiate a debate, two years ago in Dublin at the EAWOP 2017 conference, when we organized a debate around the future of WOP, we could no longer retreat, the only way was to step forward and act, and we academics touch upon the shores which are familiar, out of the sea into the land, let us swim together, learn to swim in these unknown waters, it will be less cold than we expected, we brought 50 people together in Breda in 2018, we organized and we wrote, these are the territories of familiarity, and now we stand here and welcome our 70 participants, old friends, and new friends, and a sudden emerging insight dawns upon us, here is so much upon us, external, into our domains of knowledge and understanding, it simply comes to us, the words, when we talk about our manifesto, it is here where we are invited to a ‘pitch’ for our work, no matter what, here are the words we present so easily, and our sudden emerging insight is that we no longer can see ourselves as bystanders, we are becoming, this is our Movement, and we no longer are merely individuals finding each other at conferences and on skype, we feel this mutuality and bonding, and when we sit together to evaluate the day and the conference, a lighthearted calm is entering, where people listen and talk, where women are (hopefully!) not silenced when men speak, where our chairwoman unfolds as the natural facilitator of dignity, bringing about the expressions of thankfulness, not all has to be said, and the furniture is gone, we are transforming, we are vibrating, we are glowing, this is our movement, and we have to be members, everyone has to be able to be a member of the Future of WOP, as a vision of our own future, and what we can do, in these conversations I am overwhelmed by dignity, as the promise that was given to ourselves, to our generation, to contemplate and realize what it is that we need, that we can make it happen, and all that we will do in the coming year and years is that what we internalize as the promise to ourselves, that we may continue in the spirit of what brought us together, all that will be shed light upon, all that we will share amongst each other, let us work towards greater dignity, more equality, health and well-being in academia, to be able to live up to our own values, professional and personal merging into one, to be able to use the method to find the truth that actually brings people together rather than separating, we do no longer have to accept reality as unfolding in inevitability, but here is our Movement for the Future of WOP, as a manifestation of potentiality, as a counterforce against hopelessness, as a carbon neutral vehicle for positive change against depression, burnout and loneliness, as a safe haven for any academic refugee escaping the barren landscapes of mindlessness in search for dignity and meaning, dignity is meaning, and we make this happen, because we make it happen, and during the social hours of our journals and the SGM as well as the conference dinner, we bring the manifestos to everyone who has not yet seen or read them, we need to bring it to everyone, we need to show the potentiality of positive change, and Luca from Milano corrects himself when talking about the movement, no longer your movement but our movement, he quickly identifies with the aims of what we want to do, looks as happy as his two colleagues when we chat about the manifesto as we need to identify something that connects and bonds us, across Europe and beyond, a vision of what we can mean to the world outside academia, and including our own teachers, those who have introduced us to work psychology, and when we give the manifestos to some of our esteemed Professors in our field, it is not merely to inform and show what the next generation is about, but to involve and this is our plea to everyone who has reached a position of comfort, we directly speak to you in our manifesto, read our Recommendation #5, we are all part of the same system, and we need to collectively discuss our own future, we need you as much as you need us, wait and see, because our Movement has just started and carries the promise of positive change, of equality and dignity, of collaboration and community building. Sign up now to become a member of the Future of WOP, by either supporting our initiatives or even better, by contributing actively to a better future for our discipline and universities. Follow us and our activities over the next months and years via: www.futureofwop.com.

We are the Future of Work and Organizational Psychology


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