University readerships and chairs working through the state of emergency

Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.


It´s no news that almost all universities around the world have been forced to close due to the COVID-19 health emergency. The Basque language and culture readerships run by the Etxepare Basque Institute at 25 universities in 18 countries, as well as the nine university chairs, have been forced to adapt to the situation, but almost all of them have found the way to carry on.

As we pointed out in a previous article, the 29 readers spread around the world have made great efforts to move their Basque language and culture lessons online. Most of them are adapting well, despite all the difficulties, and some of them have paved the way for innovative ideas.

However, the situation is different for the chairs. Each year, a different expert is invited to the universities to teach various subjects and offer seminars or conferences on Basque studies. Many of them are finding it difficult with the suspension of face-to-face teaching.

The five chairs that were to be held in spring 2020 have found different ways to keep their programmes afloat. The Koldo Mitxelena Chair, for instance, has moved the entire schedule to spring 2021. Both the Jean Haritschelhar Chair in Bordeaux and the Manuel Irujo in Liverpool have done the same, although registration for the Master in Research in Liverpool is still open until June 15. The Eduardo Chillida Chair at the Goethe Universitat in Frankfurt has found two solutions: the subject programmed for the second half of the 2019-2020 course is being held online, whereas the workshop to be held in June has been postponed to autumn. The Eloise Garmendia Bieter Chair at the Boise State University was supposed to start in March, right at the beginning of the state of emergency, and has now been postponed to autumn. Depending on the circumstances, classes may be shifted online.

The schedules of the Chairs planned to begin in autumn 2020 are also facing an uncertain future but have also found some alternatives. The Bernardo Atxaga Chair at the City University of New York (CUNY) is planned for October under the leadership of Mari Jose Olaziregi, and is being prepared in case it has to be offered online. Amale Artetxe, the new Chair created through an agreement between the Etxepare Basque Institute and the CONICET center in Argentina, is scheduled for autumn, but still at an early stage – the programme and the invited guest will be announced soon. The William Douglass Chair at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is scheduled for December, and classes are expected to be held as normal. Finally, the Jon Bilbao Chair in Reno, based on a research residency, is in the process of selecting this year’s research project, and will be announced soon. The residency is planned for autumn.

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