I recently attended the Symposium on Psycholinguistics in the 21st Century: Solutions, Problems. Perspectives, which was held in Moscow, Russia. The symposium was organized by the Institute of Linguistics of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
I was a part of the a special section on computer mediated communication organized by my colleague Professor Olena Goroshko of The National Technological University: Kharkiv Polytechnical Institute, in Kharkiv, Ukraine. My talk dealt with issues of interactivity and pragmatics in online teaching and learning.
As a side project, during the conference, I distributed fliers advertising a special issue of the IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication dedicated to professional writing in global contexts, which I am co-editing with Constance Kampf of the University of Aarhus in Denmark.
Here is what was cool at the Moscow symposium.
- outside of the US, humanities in general and linguistics in particular can be considered more of a "had science", and most people would expect you to produce "hard data" in your conference presentations.
- I got to meet several colleagues with whom we already have ideas for joint teaching and research projects.
- questions at sessions are asked not to be polite, but to actually challenge and dissect your ideas. I did not get many of those, but one of the presenters in our panel was grilled by the audience for a good half hour
- of course, the system of references and sources cited in most presentations would be somewhat foreign to US scholars because a lot more Russian and other East European sources are used.
So, it was as great experience, beneficial both to me and, in the long run, for my students who need a "global" perspective on things. Thanks to my department and the Dean of JMU's College of Arts and Letters for generously providing the funds for this trip.
As a "bonus," here are three pictures from the conference
The Facade of the Russian University of the Friendship of Peoples. This is where the conference took place. The name is a remnant from the Soviet system when the main mission of this institution was to educate citizens of friendly foreign lands.
The Plenary session
The word before 1943 says "Vygotsky," in Russian. Those of us "in the know" will understand why that is curious.