Looking back on a successful first virtual congress ‘from Rotterdam’

EEA congress in Rotterdam Marriott

This Summer Erasmus School of Economics hosted a new landmark event: the first virtual congress of the European Economic Association. The plans to have everything on campus with dinner at football club SBV Excelsior and welcome in the townhall at the Coolsingel could all go in the dustbin when Covid-19 hit the world.

Instead of cancelling or postponing the event, the local organising team chaired by Professor Philip Hans Franses of Erasmus School of Economics and the board of the European Economic Association decided to make it a fully virtual conference, on the exact same days with the same time table as originally planned. With a zoom coordinator in London, and with sessions zoom managers in Rotterdam, more than 1,800 participants could join the presentations by more than 900 economists. The Rotterdam based zoom managers, all students who were recruited by school association Faector, convened in the Rotterdam Marriott hotel, just opposite of Central Station. The choice for the location in the city center was due to their excellent facilities, both in terms of IT support and, not unimportantly, the catering. The conference started on Monday 24 August midday, and ended Thursday 27 August early evening. The students and organising team were exhausted but look back at four very fruitful days. Erasmus School of Economics is grateful to the students, to Marije Stofregen of Congress & Event Services and Ronald de Groot for the local organisation, and to the team of the European Economic Association, in particular Gemma Prunner Thomas, who was the main source of energy behind the scenes.

To quote Philip Hans Franses: ‘We have shown and experienced how a virtual congress can be organised and we are ready for more of those in the future! Of course, meeting colleagues in person is the best, but this came close.’

More information

A nice read is the column by economist Mathijs Bouman in Het Financieele Dagblad of 5 September 2020, in which he refers to the EEA's virtual congress 'from Rotterdam'.