C) Greg Thomas

This has been reposted from Greg’s personal blog which can be found at: http://www.showingagriculture.co.uk

It is now the Monday following the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) Postgraduate Forum Midterm Conference, and having attended the two previous conferences (in Loughborough and Sheffield) I am suffering conference blues after what I personally think was the best conference yet!

As the current Chair of the Postgraduate Forum I had been working with the team at Newcastle University since last June to organise the conference. However, I have to admit that I actually did very little, simply because the team in Newcastle was so brilliant and did such an amazing job.

So on Wednesday morning, having put the final touches to our presentations, Will Hingley and I set off on the long journey to Newcastle, accompanied by the BBC Radio coverage of the 2016 Budget, then later One Direction and Justin Bieber (quite a contrast, I admit) we arrived in Newcastle almost seven hours later.

Will Hingely and I on our jouney to Newcastle.

Having dropped off our stuff at the hotel, I headed straight to The Town Wall bar to meet the rest of the Postgraduate Forum Committee and other delegates. This was a great chance to see old friends and make new friends before the conference began. Knowing that the next two days would be action packed an early night was had.

Following a good breakfast served by perhaps the friendliest Travelodge staff member ever, we headed to the conference venue, where Anoop Nayak (Newcastle University) gave a fantastic keynote addressing race, conviviality and the geographies of encounter. This was followed by the first breakout session, I attended the Regional and Economic Development session, and I was immediately drawn to a paper by Matthew Whittle all about the Tour de France Grand Depart, and as a sports mega event, it had some very interesting comparisons to my own work on the Royal Welsh Show. This was followed by lunch and the poster session.

One of my favourite aspects of the Mid-term Conference is the workshop sessions, I attended the ‘Careers and CVs for Academic Jobs’ session which was excellently delivered by Alison Williams. This opened my eyes to academic CVs and the range of jobs that are out there post-PhD. In fact one of the things on my ever increasing to do list for this week is to now right my CV. The rest of the afternoon was spent in the Geographies of Sustainability sessions, before heading back to the hotel for the conference dinner.

What a brilliant amazing conference dinner it was too, good food, great company, and for the first time in my experience a DJ… Although it started off feeling a little like a wedding, we soon warmed up, submitted our geography playlists, and we ended up dancing the night away. It was quite a sight almost 100 geography postgraduates, the future of the discipline, all doing the Macarena. The night probably should have ended there, but some of us decided it would be a great idea to head to an infamous Newcastle trebles bar, Gotham Town. Safe to say there were some bad heads the next morning.

Phil Emmerson, Katie Oliver, Will Hingley, and I enjoying a conference brandy…

The next morning I somewhat amazingly gave my presentation, a special thanks has to go to Maddy Thompson for waking me up, and supplying me with water. My presentation went well, and I somehow amazingly made it through the rest of the day.

Delivering my presetation (perhaps a little bit hungover)…

Lunch soon followed, then the keynote from Professor Peter Hopkins addressing how to get published in geography. Having sat through similar compulsory research training courses on this subject, I expected the usual story… However Peter gave perhaps the most honest, entertaining and sincere presentations on the subject that I have ever seen. Littered with personal anecdotes, and drawing upon his own experience, the keynote was excellent, eye-opening and incredibly useful.

It was then the turn of Will Hingley, who presented his undergraduate dissertation research, which he will soon be following on to a Masters dissertation, and eventually a PhD. Will did a sterling job, and I only wish that I had his confidence at that stage of my career.

Will Hingley deliveing his presentation. 

Following the final session of the day, the conference was officially closed and the Annual General Meeting of the Postgraduate Forum was held, here the nominations for my role of Chairperson for 2016/2017 were announced, Phil Emmerson and Maddy Thompson, both gave their reasons for wanting to be Chair and outlined their vision for the future of the Postgraduate Forum, both would make excellent Chairs for the Committee and it is nice knowing that the Forum will be in such safe hands. Other committee positions will be elected at the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference in September, so if you are interested or would like more information on any positions then please get in touch.

All in all the conference was an amazing event, really well organised by everyone at Newcastle and enjoyed by all delegates. On a personal note, I would just like to say a huge thank you once again to Maddy, Matthew, Wilbert, Graham, and Sonja for everything that they did in preparation for the conference.