Letter from the Scientific Director

Vincenzo Ferrari

The time has come for me to leave the scientific directorship of the Oñati Institute, on August 31, next. Two years elapse in the blink of an eye and it is not easy to have a clear perception of the outcomes of the work one performs in such short time. It will be the task of my successor, Prof. Noé Cornago, and the incoming Board of Directors, to evaluate it.

Throughout this period, I tried to keep the traditional programmes of the Institute, such as the master and the workshops, in good shape, as always in the past. I am quite confident that the master will continue attracting good students from the most diverse countries, as happened in 2017 and 2018. Still, we must consider that our master has to face an ever-increasing competition on a global level. How to win this challenge should be a matter of debate in the next few months. As far as the workshops are concerned, the applications we receive yearly are far more numerous than those we can accept and host. This sector is especially healthy and the high level of the publications that stem from it, in form of either books or articles in Oñati Socio-Legal Series, gives further evidence of this success. Both these programmes are highly appreciated within the academia.

Other sectors seemed to me to deserve some extra effort. I am referring, primarily, to the library, which is still the world’s widest in the field of law and society, but has suffered substantively for the budgetary cuts from which the Institute has suffered since the economic crisis exploded about ten years ago. An ad hoc committee has worked hard to identify the most evident gaps and to make proposals, with special concern for those areas of socio-legal thought that are most rapidly developing. A consistent strategy is needed to assure that our library continue being attractive for visiting scholars and students, as has always occurred.

I also spent quite a lot of work in view of extending the relationships of the Institute with other academic institutions, both in the Basque country and in the other regions of Spain. I hope that the contacts established can enrich the life of the Institute and, no less, help the development of sociology of law in other universities and cultural centres. This is one of the missions of the Oñati Institute and the action performed over the past twenty-nine years has already met some remarkable successes.

“Opening the doors to research” has also been one of my own initial plans. This, in my opinion, should be a long-run strategy, which the Institute should follow with courage. I tried to stimulate our visitors, especially the participants to the workshops, to think of the IISL as a typical venue for inventing, discussing and bringing about research projects. The Institute itself should take an active part in this field. In this perspective, the existence of the Oñati Community and the generous initiative of devoted collaborators made it possible to set up an “Oñati Research Forum”, which seems to be highly promising and has actually drawn the attention of a wide number of scholars, most of the old friends of the IISL.

The Institute will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2019. Two special events will occupy the agenda on this happy occasion. Firstly, a wide international congress on “What future do we want for work. A global debate” will take place in Oñati on April, 10-12, with the attendance of some of the most distinguished specialists of both labour law and labour relations, world-wide. Secondly, the annual conference of the ISA Research Committee on Sociology of Law will take place at the Institute in June, according to a programme that is being discussed by the organizing committee. Giving voice to the younger generations of socio-legal scholars will be a major organizers’ concern.

I cannot end up with this short farewell message without expressing my warmest gratitude to the Basque Government, which has shown its sensitivity for the future of the IISL, but also, and especially, to the entire staff with which I have had the privilege to work over the past two years in Oñati. That future, of which I am talking, relies especially on their active presence and permanent help.

Vincenzo Ferrari
July 2018