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Posted on Jun 7, 2015

Back to the Ivy League for 2016 AABS Conference

Following a successful joint conference with the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies at Yale University in 2014, AABS will be going Ivy again at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia on Memorial Day weekend, May 26-28, 2016. Look for a Call for Papers soon.

The brainchild of Benjamin Franklin, UPenn claims status as the oldest university in the United States, but its pedigree includes Baltic studies as well. Among its many accomplished faculty is included Alfred Senn, who served as chair of the Department of Balto-Slavic Studies from 1947-1965 and is renowned for his work on Lithuania. The UPenn library contains a strong Baltic collection, especially regarding Lithuania and including items belonging to one of Lithuania’s founding fathers, Jurgis Šaulys. Notable alumni include recent AABS president Vejas Liulevicius, European MP from Latvia Krišjānis Kariņš, and the current president of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves. Indeed, following our invitation, President Ilves has expressed strong interest in serving as the keynote speaker of the conference and we look forward to his participation with great enthusiasm.

We are still a year away, but we can already report some exciting plans that are emerging for conference. Conferences are important to members for providing experiences that cannot be gained by other means. This, of course, includes the freshest exchange of ideas and information through papers presented, but it should include more.

A key benefit of any scholarly meeting comes from the networking and relationships that are formed on site. To that end, we hope to boost the intensity and value of these connections by organizing forums that stimulate research collaboration, new publications, and scholar-to-scholar learning. A conference should be edifying and fun. It should be a place for community. For that, we are looking to assemble a rich cultural program of music, dancing, film, poetry, and the arts. We hope to bring a museum exhibit or two as well.  Lastly, a conference should also be affordable. Our attendees travel great distances and we know that AABS is not the only conference in which they participate. We are happy that those registering for the AABS 2016 conference will have the option of staying in comfortable dormitories (private bedroom, bathroom shared in a small suite) for a fraction of typical conference accommodation costs. Hotel rooms will be available for those who wish as well. We are also grateful for the assistance and cooperation of the University’s Slavics Department and in particular, Professor Kevin Platt.

In order to stage the best possible conferences, AABS provides more in programing and organization than it can cover by registration fees alone. This conference will be no different. Therefore, we urge not only your participation, but welcome your ideas, and your donations. Philadelphia is a fascinating, attractive, and historic city. It is a convenient travel destination. We will be at one of America’s most prestigious universities. We promise an exciting program, but we will need your help. Please consider lending your assistance with a donation to AABS marked as for the 2016 conference.

Questions about the conference can be directed to Janis Chakars at AABS2016@gmail.com. You can also follow us on Twitter (@balticstudies) and on Facebook for updates along with other information about Baltic studies.  We look forward to seeing you in the City of Brotherly Love.

Janis Chakars, VP for Conferences