Mid-term conference review: Aberystwyth, 5th-6th March 2010

RGS IBG postgraduate mid-term conference 5th/6th March 2010: Aberystwyth University. Conference theme: Engaging Geographies.
Thank you to all who helped organise the conference. It was a fantastic couple of days, and with over 90 delegates from around Europe it was a massive success. Our plenary speaker, Professor Klaus Dodds did an excellent job- showing the ways that postgraduate students can think both within and beyond their discipline, looking towards their (geographical) futures.
Our conference theme of ‘engaging geographies’ definitely had an impact upon the sessions for the day, with sessions on a wide range of topics in contemporary geography: energy; technology and policy; place and migration; development and post colonial geography; embodied geographies; environmental change; GIS and environmental modelling; and the human response to the natural environment; that stretch right across the discipline.  The theme encouraged presenters to think of the ways in which current geographical research might be meaningful beyond the academe; highlighting the relationship that geography has with wider policy initiatives, governmental initiatives, and other disciplines.  This is always a challenge so thanks go out to all involved for contributing to this fantastic debate.  We also had sessions on current enquiries into different methodologies, which is always a talking point for any postgraduate researcher.
There was a definite air of conference networking over lunch and the coffee breaks, and it was great to see people striking up conversations over the posters that were positioned around the focal point of the conference.
In the afternoon, we went straight into the workshop sessions, ran by various faculty members at the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences (IGES).  Prof. Matthew Hannah conducted a workshop on ontology and epistemology which had conference delegates talking about the related battles they have in the course of their study.  Reports received from other workshops – which included the traps and pitfalls of PhD study, viva preparation and survival, tips on publishing, and how to actually structure the thesis – were also highly positive.
At the end of the day it was great to move away from the academic side of conferencing towards post conference relaxation and networking of a different kind. We had a fantastic post conference meal at one of Aberystwyth’s landmarks: the Constitution Hill restaurant.  Conversation continued to flow and most people even had a turn on the dance floor!
All in all, a great couple of days.  Special thanks to Dr Catherine Souch for her contributions to the conference, to Professor Dodds for the fantastic plenary speech, all those faculty members from IGES, all of those on the organising committee, and finally the participants for making it such an engaging and fun conference. We hope to see many of you at next year’s event, held at Durham.