GURT 2020 Virtual

GURT 2020 Multilingualism: Global South and Global North Perspectives – an important milestone for MultiLing’s INTPART collaboration – was sadly cancelled due to the coronavirus. However, it didn't take long for the organizers to regroup and launch GURT as a virtual conference.

GURT 2020 logo

GURT 2020 cancelled

The Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics (GURT) is an annual conference organized by scholars at the prestigious Washington, DC university. GURT 2020, which was to be held from March 13–15 on the topic of "Multilingualism: Global South and Global North Perspectives", had attracted 320 participants from 25 countries. On March 6, after a year of preparations, and just a week before the conference was to convene, the organizers took the tough decision to cancel. Given the international health crisis created by COVID-19, the cancellation was inevitable, but the disappointment among participants was nonetheless immense. 

Digital rebirth of GURT 2020

However, it did not take long before the conference organizers devised alternative digital ways to share the research everyone was prevented from sharing in person at GURT. Through the establishment of "GURT 2020 Virtual", a private group on Facebook, registered participants were allowed to upload their Power point presentations, papers, and other syntheses of their research for sharing. Furthermore, plans are in place for publications on different themes and topic clusters covered in the GURT 2020 program. GURT 2020 Virtual was met very positively and has indeed been a great success!

Multilingualism: Global South and Global North Perspectives

The theme for GURT 2020 was chosen by Professors Lourdes Ortega and Anna De Fina to highlight and stimulate the ongoing INTPART collaboration MultiLing has with Georgetown’s Initiative for Multilingual Studies and four eminent South African universities (University of Cape Town, University of the Western Cape, Stellenbosch University, University of the Witwatersrand). As announced on the conference website, GURT 2020 was to: "focus on the relation between multilingual learning and multilingual practices, globalization, and social justice with two goals: (a) to bring together research on multilingualism spanning the full spectrum of psycholinguistic-cognitive and sociolinguistic-critical approaches and (b) to facilitate dialogue about multilingualism as it is lived and investigated across diverse contexts in the Global North and the Global South."

Overwhelming academic appeal

The conference’s appeal to the academic community was overwhelming. INTPART colleagues from MultiLing, South Africa and Georgetown University were well-represented in the program. MultiLing’s Pia Lane was among the keynote speakers along with INTPART partners Ana Deumert (University of Cape Town) and Emanuel Bylund (Stellenbosch University).

We at MultiLing want to thank the organizers, especially Lourdes Ortega and Anna De Fina, for their tireless work in an extremely difficult situation.

Georgetown University in fall colors.
Beautiful Georgetown University in fall colors. We look forward to seeing you again in the not too distant future. Photo: Wiki Commons
By Elizabeth Lanza
Published Mar. 27, 2020 9:42 AM - Last modified Mar. 27, 2020 10:27 AM