“Ensure the safety of participants”

By Prof. Pam Maras, IUPsyS President

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, you have decided to postpone the 32nd International Congress of Psychology in Prague, Czech Republic, to July 2021. How will this decision affect IUPsyS (International Union of Psychological Science) as an organisation, and the Congress?

IUPsyS has moved the 32nd International Congress of Psychology (ICP2020+) to 2021 to ensure the safety of participants and protect the integrity of our flagship quadrennial Congress, which is the largest global generic psychology Congress.  ICPs are well-known and prestigious events and the ICP2020+ team have taken great care to ensure that our delegates are aware of changes, the reason for them, and how they will be accommodated in 2021. Most have pledged continued support for ICP2020+. The main impact of the postponement of ICP2020 on IUPsyS as an organisation has been that we have also had to postpone our Assembly, that is held at the time of an ICP, until 2021, and hence the associated governance activities.  Our quadrennial Awards have also had to be postponed for a year. Furthermore, whilst as a global entity we have always primarily operated virtually, the pandemic has obviously required that all current activities and events are conducted using virtual platforms.

Will there be any drastic changes made to the Congress next year?

At this stage the ICP2020+ leadership are proceeding as planned, whilst keeping a close watch on the evolving pandemic.  Plans are, however, being made to accommodate State-of-the-Science and Invited Keynote Speakers who may be unable to travel in the current climate due to, for instance, factors such as age and health related risk factors, in virtual sessions.  In addition to the existing scientific programme, ICP2020+ will also provide an important opportunity to interrogate psychology’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and other current key unfolding global issues to which psychology can contribute solutions.

Would you consider hosting a virtual event instead of cancelling the 2020 Congress?

Whilst we still plan to hold ICP2020+ in-person in Prague in 2021, as noted above we are also planning to include certain virtual presentations and sessions as a new feature of the Congress.

Going back to large in-person events will take some time to get used to. Are you concerned this may affect the number of Congress attendees?

Whilst we are mindful of this, we believe that the reputation and status of the Congress will ensure attendance, especially as the ICP2020+ leadership are ensuring that the scientific programme will address current cutting-edge global issues of import for psychology.  We are, however, monitoring the situation as it unfolds so that we can rapidly respond to any issues regarding attendance as they arise and, if necessary, adapt the format of the Congress accordingly.  

The MICE industry has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. How do you think this will change our industry, and what measures can be taken, in your opinion?

Increased flexibility to respond and adapt to unfolding changes in the global landscape and Congress market will be required.  This will need to include inter alia increased facilities for hosting virtual speakers and sessions as older and at risk luminaries are likely to choose not to travel to long-haul destinations for the foreseeable future, as well as assurances for delegates that venues, accommodation and travel conforms to recognised health and safety standards.