When Will You Be Able and Willing to Travel for Work Again? (updated)


The organizers of conferences, the planners of colloquia, the inviters of speakers… these are some of the people who’d like to know when you think you’ll have permission and funding from your university or college to once again travel for work—and the willingess to do it.

[time-lapse photography by Pete Mauney]

Of course, most of us don’t know for sure what our schools’ plans are, nor do we know with any certainty the trajectory and development of the pandemic. But it could be useful nonetheless to get a sense what members of the philosophical community think about their future travel plans. So below is a short, one-question poll. If you’re a professor, researcher, instructor, or graduate student in philosophy or a related field, please take a moment to answer the question and click “done.”

Thanks!

You are welcome to elaborate or explain your answer in the comments. I’ll share the poll results in a follow-up post.

UPDATE (2/8/21): Poll results here.


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Zoran Kojcic
10 months ago

As an independent researcher who depends mostly on in-person projects and activities, I pay on my own for conferences and travels. These projects will take some time to start, given the current situation at the beginning of 2021. I do have the willingness to travel, any time, I always have, but given the funds and projects, I believe I will be able to get back to long distance travel at the earliest in spring 2022.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
10 months ago

I put “June/July 2021”, but the real answer is “when I get the vaccine, plus a week (or whatever) for it to become effective, plus five minutes to book a flight”. So it’s more a guess on the efficacy of the Biden administration than a statement of personal intent.Report

Matt
10 months ago

Major issues for academics in Australia include government imposed travel restriction (including inside the country, but even more so for international travel), and the availability of research funds. The two are related given the serious budget crisis in many Australian universities so long as foreign students, who pay for a significant amount of the higher education system here, are excluded. (All research funds at my university were confiscated in March of 2020, for example, and it’s unclear when we we have any research budget again. I will be surprised if it is in 2021.) Given Australia’s very slow movement on vaccines, I will be very surprised if international borders are close to open before September or October at the earliest, and perhaps not until later in 2021.Report

Kenny Easwaran
10 months ago

Like David Wallace, I wouldn’t want to make too much of a guess about the date. Instead I would peg it to the combination of both being personally vaccinated, *and* the general infection rate being low (both as evidence that vaccines have been working, and to make sure that my own vaccine is bringing the risk down from an already low level). If infection rates are staying above the 20 cases per 100,000 people per day range well after a majority of people are vaccinated, (let alone the current 50-70 range I’m seeing in the places where I and my family live, as numbers decrease after the holiday wave) I wouldn’t trust my vaccine to be more effective than the rest. I’m not sure exactly what sort of population numbers I want to see, but I do want it to be clear that they’re decreasing.

I suppose if case numbers in the general public really get low enough due to widespread vaccination, there would be a point at which I’m willing to resume much of my before-time behavior, even if there is some technical difficulty preventing me from getting a vaccine. But I suppose the number would have to be 95% lower to make up for my lack of vaccine.Report

Jon Light
Jon Light
10 months ago

I’m increasingly fine with stopping conference travel altogether. They weren’t really that fun, it was a lot of time away from travel, it’s just as easy to connect with people online, there’s environmental concerns, and so on. I don’t expect stuff to return to anywhere close to normal after the vaccine. (I’ve had the vaccine already, and it really hasn’t affected my interest in traveling, though hard to say if lower national/regional rates would make a difference.)Report

Adam Omelianchuk
Adam Omelianchuk
10 months ago

I got the vaccine (2 shots) early since I work for a hospital, so I am ready and willing to travel now. I am hoping more Americans can get 2 shots by June, but things seem to be going pretty slow.Report

Josh Mugg
Josh Mugg
10 months ago

I’m being told by our provost that Fall 2021 will likely look like Fall 2020 for our university. Hopefully that changes….Report

Todd Marsch
Todd Marsch
10 months ago

Given the financial situation at my university, there is no travel funding for conferences, and I don’t think that’s coming back post-COVID (whenever that is). After the infection rates are down, and I’m vaccinated, I suppose it’s conceivable that there will be an out-of-town conference that is appealing enough for me to pay for the travel totally out-of-pocket, but I think that’s pretty unlikely.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
10 months ago

Come to think of it, I could book a flight while waiting for the vaccine to become effective. Multitasking!Report

Jasper
Jasper
10 months ago

In response to people saying they are fine with travelling because they are vaccinated: It is not clear that vaccinated people cannot contribute to spreading the virus (e. g. https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/uk-55784199).Report

David Mark Wallace
David Mark Wallace
10 months ago

@Jasper: I was taking as read that no-one would be travelling if overall epidemiological advice says not to.Report

Harlan Goetz
Harlan Goetz
10 months ago

I picked ‘never’ — the reason is that now that we are all used to Zoom, it is unclear what the point is to having someone there in person, and all the hassle and faffing around it takes to travel. You can be much more economical with your time and offer a ‘Zoom talk’ at an event – and people will be less likely to think that is unusual. Also, the virus keeps mutating and it’s not clear we’ll ever be ahead of the latest mutations. Probably best to just call it what it is and do philosophy by Zoom and try to make the best of it.Report

James R. Hamilton
9 months ago

I put down October or November of this coming year. That may be optimistic, since it depends on international restrictions and the implied restrictions inside the US. But I certainly hope we are able to travel by then. Unlike Jon Light, above, I rather enjoy conferences — particularly getting to see people whose names I know from my research but whom I have not yet met. That said, I think I agree that only a very few conferences are really all that valuable. And, so, I plan to restrict my travel.Report

Junior Scholar
Junior Scholar
9 months ago

The interest in evaluating general comfort with the idea of resuming travel seems understandable, but as other comments have hinted at, asking people to assess this in terms of specific dates seems meaningless. For any of us who are paying attention to the epidemiological data and infectious disease experts, we should be looking at necessary conditions for resuming activities (like travel, but also others like phased returns to campuses), not specific dates.

Factors might include 1. personal vaccination status 2. population vaccination data (herd immunity stats in one’s own community and the community you are traveling to) 3. further data to confirm that vaccines limit one’s ability to transmit the virus (which they are suspected to do, but this requires confirmation) 4. transmission rates where one lives and where one would be traveling to (which is going to be location and time dependent) 5. whether vaccines prove effective against mutations of the virus. 6.) how long vaccination proves to be effective for (this is a big unknown – will it last a year? several years? will antibodies fade sooner?). This list is non-exhaustive, I am sure I missing other crucial factors.

We won’t know the answers to some of these questions for quite a while. But depending on how some of the above points evolve in the coming months to year, maybe I would travel in the fall of 2021, maybe not until sometime in 2022, maybe not even then. Whether I would do that travel for work is a whole other story – there are all sorts of other things I am much more excited to do than go to a philosophy conference I could much more easily attend virtually. Sure, I want to see my philosophy friends – but I could travel just to go see them – no pretense of a conference would be necessary.Report