Letter from the President and the Director

Narcís Serra & Jacint Jordana

This year 2020 has been exceptional for a very basic reason: the COVID-19 pandemic that has strongly impacted on our lives and professional activities
in many respects. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an event with dramatic global consequences, which few could have foreseen. The entire IBEI community was committed to fighting it, and expressed its solidarity with all those who fell ill or who lost loved ones.

 

In spite of the circumstances, at IBEI, day-to-day activities continued as normally as possible, even during the hardest times of lockdown, thanks to a radical and immediate move to digital. Students made a great effort to persist in their studies in the face of the difficulties they experienced, and in some cases, in the less-than-ideal conditions of quarantine, whether it was in Barcelona or in their countries of origin. From the IBEI faculty and management, we did everything to make study plans more flexible and adapt them to the new circumstances, by introducing a series of measures
that allowed each student to find the customized solution that met their needs and expectations best.

 

Fortunately, we were prepared: in late February 2020, we started moving all IBEI activities to virtual platforms and formats, implementing the necessary software, preparing the corresponding handbooks and making all kinds of adjustments to the organization of study and work. This allowed us to make a comparatively quick, seamless transition to e-learning, with students and teachers committed to continue the semester with the digital tools we made available to them. Even though it was an emergency situation, we managed to respond quickly and adapt syllabi, especially assessment criteria, to the new circumstances, with all the flexibility required.

In this respect, all faculty and students – with very few exceptions – continued to work relatively normally, while adjusting to and experimenting with the new digital environment.Their dedication and involvement were admirable and indicative of IBEI’s commitment to complete the master's programmes with all the guarantees of quality, despite all the restrictions we were experiencing. Research activities and projects at IBEI were also profoundly affected by the pandemic. There was a great deal of uncertainty with regard to COVID-19, and it was therefore very difficult to make forecasts at that time, and in many cases, projects requested extensions to reduce such uncertainty, while many activities moved to digital environments and formats, from research seminars to personal interviews in field research. However, distortions were inevitable and researchers made great efforts under the extremely difficult circumstances resulting from the pandemic.

 

In short, this has been a very special and difficult year for everybody, including IBEI, but we rose to the challenge and new students continued to arrive at IBEI in the autumn for our new courses and programmes. New research projects were launched throughout the year, as the first ERC Consolidator Grant obtained by IBEI, in October 2020. This is why we warmly thank the entire IBEI community for their enthusiasm and hard work during this extremely trying year 2020.