I think academia is addicted to flying for two main reasons.
Firstly, academics like to attend conferences and team meetings abroad because it helps with networking and relationship building; watching talks online is not a substitute. The technology exists, however, to provide genuinely immersive virtual alternatives. It is imperative that IT companies and universities invest heavily in this now.
Second, and more shamefully, flying and staying abroad is still a marker of status – evidence of ‘international reputation’. This will be a tough nut to crack.
My response is to seek to fly less and to attend conferences closer to home, and to be vocal about the need to do so. This alone cannot solve the problem. A new technology-assisted virtual culture is needed urgently.
My focus is on values-led school improvement, responsible leadership and enhancing educational dialogue. I lead a international online Master’s course on Educational Leadership with students from all over the world (who don’t fly to lectures!).