Dear MCAA members,
Like many years before, February is the month in which we host the Annual Conference (AC) of the MCAA. This year's event focused on the increasingly important subject of science diplomacy and sustainable development.
The topic of science diplomacy was often raised by the MCAA in 2022, largely due to the outbreak of war in Europe. This time, we have looked at the topic in a much broader perspective. On its own, science diplomacy is a way to raise and use our voice as a tool to facilitate a knowledgeable decision-making process. Like many other soft skills, it is a skill that can be practised, mastered and applied at various scales, ranging from everyday debate to lobbying or even representing organizations at an international forum. Likewise, the topic of sustainability did not focus on commonly associated environmental issues, but on how we, as individuals and as a society, can meet our own needs for personal development and growth without compromising future goals (personal or professional).
While 67% of PhD students prefer to stay in academia, only 30% of them stay in the field 3 years after the defence (e.g., as a postdoc). In the case of postdoctoral researchers, this statistic is even lower, with a slim 3% making it to the first tenure track position, as reported by the University of Leiden. Therefore, sustainable personal development can mean very different things to an academic, depending on his/her career stage. He or she may be seeking a better work-life balance while striving for a deeply desired breakthrough in the academic career. On the other hand, it may mean finding a sustainable personal development plan after one leaves academia, or finding a way to grow personally after the MSCA. It may simply mean accepting the fact that one size and one career template does not suit everyone.
As broad as these topics are, the MCAA was able to cover nearly all of them in one of 20 high-quality parallel sessions that took place on February 24 and 25. Therefore, in the current issue of the MCAA Newsletter, we take a look back at the annual conference and reflect on how topics discussed at the event can help us advocate for the values we stand for and build a sustainable career.
Oleksandra (Sasha) Ivashchenko
Editor-in-chief of the MCAA Newsletter