2015: Exeter


Some reflections on the 2015 RGS-IBG International Conference by Greg Thomas, Chair of the RGS-IBG Postgraduate Forum, Aberystwyth University.

The Royal Geographical Society with Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG) Annual International Conference was held at Exeter University on the 1st – 4th September at once again it was a fantastic event,
socially and intellectually.CNz3-W1WIAAseuJ

For me the conference started on the Tuesday by attending PGF-ACTS, for those who don’t know that is the Postgraduate Forum Annual Training Symposium is a day dedicated to postgraduate networking and training. It is a great chance to break down the boundaries, learn some new skills, and make some new friends before the conference properly starts. The day contained a great mix of discussions and workshops and I think for many one of the highlights had to be the genius ‘Conference Carousel Top Trumps’ session delivered by Dr Nicola Thomas. By getting delegates to design their own Top Trumps cards, Nicola took us through the highs and the lows of attending a conference and shared her experiences of how to make the most of attending a conference. Other sessions were more career driven and gave a good overview of how to make the most of our time as postgraduates.

The conference officially began with the opening plenary with Professor Will Steffan and Dr Jamie Lorimer who gave a fascinating overview of the Anthropocene with focus on both the human and physical aspects of the new epoch.

On the Wednesday the conference officially started and the first two sessions of the day were organised by the Postgraduate Forum. Our ‘Innovative Methodologies in Postgraduate Research’ sessions were Chaired by Dr Hilary Geoghegan (Reading University) and Dr Sarah Mills (Loughborough University) and showcased the innovative methods that geography postgraduates, from all around the world are using in their research. This session took the form of short presentations followed by a group discussion, facilitated by Hilary and Sarah respectively. I personally presented in one of these sessions and I found that the group discussion generated some great feedback for my work.

For me the Thursday of the Conference was a relatively quiet day, I was not presenting or convening any sessions, however I attended a number of sessions, but my particular favourite sessions of the day was ‘Being and becoming citizens: spaces of political engagement’. These sessions combined my love of geography and politics, and gave global insights into various citizenship programmes.

Session one on Friday ‘Teaching as a postgraduate: challenges, adaptions and best practices’ was again organised by the Postgraduate Forum, and was co-sponsored by the Higher Education Research Group. This session, Chaired by Dr Jenny Hill (UWE, Bristol), which I again presented in, with an undergraduate student, Oliver Haine, was highly interactive and included a wide variety of papers about all aspects of postgraduate teaching. The discussions following the session were very productive, best practice was shared and it is hoped that this session will start a new dialogue about the role of the graduate teaching assistant in the modern neo-liberal university.

The Annual Conference also marked the official start of my term of office as the Chairperson of the RGS-IBG Postgraduate Forum, as such I was very busy throughout the week working with the Llinos Brown (2014/2015 Chair) to ensure the smooth running of the postgraduate forum events. One of the major strengths of this years conference for me was the way in which postgraduates socialised. Throughout all the coffee and lunch breaks there was always something going on, and there were also evening social events, ensuring that no one was left out. Thanks must be given to everyone who was involved with organising the social events, and hopefully this will be something that we can continue at future conference.

On a personal note, a massive heartfelt thank you to Llinos Brown, the outgoing Chair of the RGS-IBG Postgraduate Forum, she has done an amazing job, and has really brought geography postgraduates together, and moved the Postgraduate Forum forward. I hope to be able to continue the great work that Llinos has done in my term of office.


Tuesday 01 Sep 2015 

PGF-ACTS Training Symposium – Click here for more information

Wednesday 02 Sep 2015

Innovative Methodologies in Postgraduate Research (1)
Wednesday Session 1 (09:00-10:40)      Peter Chalk – Room 1.1   Click for session details

Innovative Methodologies in Postgraduate Research (2)
Wednesday Session 2 (11:10-12:50)      Peter Chalk – Room 1.1   Click for session details

Postgraduate research in Energy Geographies
Wednesday Session 3 (14:40-16:20)      Peter Chalk – Rooms 2.2 & 2.3   Click for session details

Thursday 03 Sep 2015

PGF-ACTS Postgraduate Networking Event
Thursday Session 1 (09:00-10:40)      Newman Building – Lecture Theatre F (Red)   Click for session details

Current and emerging research in transport (1): Active travel and commuting
Thursday Session 1 (09:00-10:40)      Peter Chalk – Room 2.1   Click for session details

The Contemporary Growth of Regional Identity in Europe
Thursday Session 2 (11:10-12:50)      Peter Chalk – Room 1.4   Click for session details

Current and emerging research in transport (2): Inclusive mobility and networks
Thursday Session 2 (11:10-12:50)      Peter Chalk – Room 2.1   Click for session details

Area drinks reception for early career researchers
Thursday 18:45-20:00      Peter Chalk Foyer   Click for session details

Friday 04 Sep 2015

Teaching as a postgraduate: challenges, adaptations and best practices
Friday Session 1 (09:00-10:40)      Peter Chalk – Room 1.6   Click for session details

Postgraduate Forum Meeting
Friday Plenary & lunch (13:10-14:25)      Forum – Seminar Room 11   Click for session details

Provocations and Possibilities ‘in’ and ‘of’ the Anthropocene: Postgraduate Snapshots
Friday Session 3 (14:40-16:20)      Peter Chalk – Room 1.6   Click for session details