Each IJAS conference (i) introduces professors and other delegates to geographical locations that would be ideal for a study abroad program, and (ii) hosts academic research presentations in the following tracks:
Social Sciences and Humanities,
Business and Economics,
Teaching and Education, and
Technology and Science.
Delegates may take complimentary tours during the conference in a rigorously planned educational and cultural program. Click here for more information.
Delegates may also register for an optional one-credit hour graduate-level course entitled How to Organize a Study Abroad Program. Click here for information about this practicum-oriented course specially tailored for academics.
FLORENCE CONFERENCE (April 2013): Our Italian tour guide's witty comment about a historical monument draws a reaction.
PISA (April 2013): The whole imposing edifice of the celebrated tower rises tall behind us.
VIENNA CONFERENCE (April 2013): Delegates share thoughts and ideas over a hot meal during our visit to Stift Melk, a famous abbey and home of the remains of the House of Babenberg, Austria's first ruling dynasty.
FLORENCE CONFERENCE (April 2013): Academics from Istanbul Technical University taking a well-deserved break in the Convitto della Calza courtyard after their research presentations. From left to right: Cagdas Calli, Mehmet Ragip Muhaffel and Onur Tazegul.
"I'm now pretty bored with single discipline conferences because chances are you only learn about things you know already." - Stefan Sagmeister
If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.
Around the turn of the century, in Rhode Island, a group of Bryant College professors from different departments would frequently meet for lunch, sharing ideas over a Sodexo meal. The members of this group included Pat Keeley, Pedro Beade and Glen Camp. Pat, known for his Irish wit, would frequently remark sarcastically that a new international journal, a multidisciplinary one, was needed to record the group’s thoughts. Nobody would think anything of Pat’s tongue in cheek comment but the eccentric and affable Glen Camp, a multilinguist who had spent the early years of his career as a policy director for the U.S. State Department in Europe, would each time raise his glass and reply “Superbe! Magnifique!” At first it was thought that Camp was acting theatrically in jest but it soon became apparent that he was obsessed by the remark that Keeley would generously repeat over time, if for nothing else, to elicit the predictable reply. A Harvard alumnus and Fulbright scholar, Camp was the founder of the Rhode Island branch of Amnesty International, and he saw in open and multidisciplinary communications a catalyst for international education and harmony across geographical boundaries. He envisioned how a journal of this nature could promote study abroad programs. Sitting at the same table would be Dean Earl Briden whose pet project at Bryant was to get the faculty to think outside the box. Bryant students were visiting China and Dean Briden helped with their documentation for passing through customs. One may imagine the Dean’s generous words of encouragement to Camp. This led Camp to prod Pedro Beade for advice about securing funding for the journal and academic conferences. As a board member of the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities, Beade was an expert in grant writing and had the right connections. Camp was the favorite professor of the international students at Bryant, and Beade who had been raised in Cuba believed in Camp’s vision.
This was an exciting time at Bryant. The college was on the verge of becoming a university and a major campus expansion would soon be undertaken. As so often happens in such situations involving change, other concepts took a backseat and the idea of a multidisciplinary journal that couldn’t fit readily in any one department could at first elicit only a very narrow support. Running a conference was doable and in 2002 the first joint conference was held with the Latino Fraternal Caucus, in North Providence, Rhode Island. However, publishing a journal would prove to be a more demanding task.
The International Journal of Arts & Sciences (IJAS) was officially registered as a double-blind refereed journal in 2005. The first issue was published one year later in hard-copy format thanks to the creative writings of Rocio Dresser (San Jose State University), Jerry Galloway (Georgia Southern), Kristin Redington Bennett (Wake Forest University), and Sylvia Nassar-McMillan (North Carolina State University), among others. Each issue was driven by a call for papers focusing on a particular topic such as the above collection of pedagogical articles.
By 2008, some of the initial Bryant faculty had assumed new responsibilities or joined other universities. A few others had passed away or retired. Among those who were now teaching elsewhere was Joseph Bonnici, a professor active in study abroad programs.
In 2008, Bonnici was asked to facilitate major changes at IJAS and to extend the organization's outreach beyond American academia. Sticking closely to Camp's philosophical blueprint, IJAS formally became an exclusive - instead of joint - organizer of conferences. The multidisciplinary content of the conferences remained the same but the format changed from a “traditional” American to an international “study abroad” format. Most conferences were also changed into annual, instead of semi-annual, events. IJAS also started disseminating its articles in electronic format, thereby increasing its articles’ access across the world. Professors at Central Connecticut State University including Henry Greene, Khoon Koh and Bonnici himself coordinated the first "study abroad" conferences which have given IJAS a unique identity.
Volker Kieber and Joseph Azzopardi in Gottenheim
Across the Atlantic, two persons stood out in IJAS’ success in Europe. One was Volker Kieber who jettisoned IJAS beyond its American base to link up with Eucor, the Upper Rhine University with campuses in three European countries. As a result of this university partnership, IJAS has been on a tear solidifying its European program. The other highly productive relationship happened shortly thereafter with the University of Malta. With a campus in the center of the Mediterranean and historical ties to the Knights of Malta at the Anglo-American University in the Czech Republic, this resulted in a continuation of conferences in various European countries. The University of Malta’s Joseph Azzopardi, a Department Chair fluent in German, further nurtured IJAS’ close relationship with German and Austrian universities which between them sponsor about one third of IJAS’ annual conferences.
Dec 2009: Eucor Director B. Finger addressing IJAS delegates
In line with the above developments, IJAS' editorial board actively solicited international research. Today, IJAS' articles are indexed or accessed in (i) WorldCat, (ii) Ulrich's serials directory, (iii) Cabell's directories of Educational Curriculum & Methods and Educational Psychology and Administration, (iv) ProQuest, (v) Pol-On, the Polish scholarly bibliography operated by the University of Warsaw, (vi) Genamics, (vii) the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA 2012) list compiled by the Australian Research Council, and (viii) Google Scholar - click here.
Over the last few years, widespread cuts in university budgets have led to the demise of many excellent research programs and projects on American campuses. IJAS has been at the forefront in supporting the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good. It teamed up with the University of San Diego in promoting a study abroad graduate course. Last year, IJAS partnered to revive a university project that will offer a wider array of refereed journals and publishing opportunities for conference delegates. IJAS also actively seeks established conferences that would benefit from IJAS' expertise.
Trying to explain the IJAS experience to some who have spent a lifetime attending traditional, single-discipline conferences confined within four walls is like trying to explain the laptop to a 1960's typist chugging at her typewriter in her cubicle. IJAS owes its success instead to a burgeoning generation of professors who are internationally mobile and eager to explore beyond the confines of their discipline and geographical base. The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size. Taken to its fullest, the IJAS experience is fatal to silo mentalities. At IJAS', there is always something new to do and learn. To those who prefer a traditional, single-discipline conference, they could still experience this at IJAS by narrowing the type of papers they attend to and skipping the cultural programs. Like a study abroad program, an IJAS conference is what one makes it. There are students who take their study abroad program seriously, actively trying to comprehend and close the cultural divide. And there are those who can't wait for the opportunity to get drunk. As one University of Cincinnati professor put it upon attending the IJAS conference in Prague, if a delegate presents a paper and leaves, the experience is no different than if one did the same thing at a bigger conference such as the American Psychological Association's. She then described what it was like to listen to a wide variety of presentations at the IJAS conference:
The American presenters [were] highly energetic and data driven about helping low income NYC students... The Polish presenter had highly multicolored slides about how the sounds of poetry make us happy. The German presenter and the Romanian presenter [spoke] about theology. The grad student in English studies read a paper full of whimsical self disclosure about reading Mrs. Dalloway in the tub. An Israeli Buddhist gave a moving account of his moment of enlightenment in the Judean desert. Having such variety in culture, kinds of questions being asked, and styles of presentations is an experience of widening the world that would not occur in discipline specific situations. This pulls you out of your silo if you let it.
The universities of Freiburg, Basel, Strasbourg, Karlsruhe and Mulhouse-Colmar formed an association in December 1989 to create the European Confederation of Upper Rhine Universities, also known as Eucor. Every December, IJAS hosts a conference in the outskirts of Freiburg to commemorate this event. The avowed intent of the Eucor network and its signatories, including every IJAS conference, is to create international cooperative initiatives in the realms of education, research and culture.
GERMANY CONFERENCE (December 2012): It's late Wednesday evening and three sessions are still running at our Germany conference. The smiles in the above session are truly heart-warming in the six-day grueling schedule that included countless presentations and as much as free tours to the Black Forest, Strasbourg, Alsace, Basel and Heidelberg, in Germany, France and Switzerland. Heavily subsidized by a European Union grant the annual conference has a loyal following both among our delegates and the German press (click here and here).
STRASBOURG, FRANCE (December 2012): Christmas is in the air as the above passengers, all IJAS delegates, are about to cruise on the concentric river while listening to an in-depth lecture, spiced with humor, about the city's history. Our annual conference in the outskirts of Freiburg, Germany, continues to attract hundreds of delegates. Spanning over six days, it promotes study abroad programs in Germany, Switzerland, and France's Alsace and Strasbourg.
PROVENCE CONFERENCE (May 2012): IJAS delegates line up in front of Avignon's famous bridge - le pont d'Avignon - that gave rise in France to a well-known song by the same name.
CONFERENCE ON THE HARVARD CAMPUS (May 2012): Seeking a place in the shade in the Radcliffe garden, Professor Pellegrino Manfra (center) listens attentively during a break. Professor Manfra's earlier presentation was entitled Moral Decadence, Decay and Hazard: Causes of the Current Financial Crisis. Over 500 delegates attended this conference.
PRAGUE CONFERENCE (June 2012): Our conference in the Czech Republic continues to enthrall as evidenced by the above photos showing in anticlockwise fashion (i) our visit to the Kutna Hora ossuary containing up to 70,000 human skeletons serving as decorations in the underground chapel, (ii) the vision that transfixed our delegates in Karlstejn last year and generated a lot of internet buzz, and (iii) the "faculty trampolene contest" in downtown Kutna Hora on 28 June 2012, won by Dr. Amy Owen of the University of Guam. (Photo of Dr. Owen levitating: By courtesy of Dr. Jaggapan Cadchumsang)