Mixing the past with the present: Medievalists go digital with new event app, as Europe’s largest medieval congress goes virtual
Last week, Europe’s largest medieval event, the International Medieval Congress (IMC), swapped its annual visit to University of Leeds’ campus for a virtual event, due to the restrictions presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hosted on a digital app that was sought, managed and produced by the University of Leeds’ conference and events facilitator, MEETinLEEDS, the app enabled over 3,000 attendees to virtually attend the IMC as it celebrated its 27th year via the digital platform.
Bringing together medievalists from over 60 different countries ranging from Canada to Australia, this year’s virtual IMC took place over a digital forum and brought together an international community of scholars keen to participate in cutting-edge research in the field. The event featured over 500 speakers, and included a wide array of individual papers, roundtable discussions with medieval experts from all over the world, and even a virtual disco. Featuring two keynote speakers; one from Spain and another from Korea, as well as keynote presentations covering vital new research in medieval studies by prominent academics, the IMC covered all aspects of Medieval Studies via the new event app.
Available for both android and Apple products, as well as accessible via a website, the digital platform provided a virtual meeting space via Aventri, and enabled the IMC to still go ahead, despite the challenges being faced by the conference and events industry. For many attending delegates, the 2020 IMC event was their first experience of a virtual conference, and they were grateful for the ability to continue to exchange ideas and explore potential collaborations for future research via this format.
Harriet Boatwright, Sales and Marketing Manager from MEETinLEEDS, commented: “The launch of the event app enabled us to bring together a large, international group of medievalists, and truly facilitated live discussions and the sharing of research in the face of a global pandemic. We were keen to ensure that the event still went ahead, not only because so many people already carried out their research, but also to provide positive encouragement to the global medievalist community and generate that much-needed connection during these difficult times. Whilst we received such positive feedback from the virtual event, we look forward to welcoming back physical events and natural networking when the time is right to do so.”
Axel Muller, Director of International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds, commented: “It was a huge pleasure to carry out this year’s IMC via the new event app, as it truly brought the global, medieval community together in an entirely new way and allowed delegates to stay connected. Thanks to the hard work of the IMC and MEETinLEEDS teams, we were able to create a successful virtual event, and we received fantastic feedback from delegates far and wide. It was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the work and research that had been undertaken, and we are excited to welcome the physical event next year.”