Blog 2017 Postgrad Conference – EGRG bursary holders

Thoughts on RGS-IBG Postgraduate Midterm Conference 2017

Being a PhD student at Cardiff University who extensively draws from the tradition of Human Geography I made a pragmatic decision to join the RGS-Midterm Conference organised this year by my colleagues from Cardiff School of Geography and Planning. It was the first time I attended any event within the network of Royal Geographical Society and I welcomed the opportunity to present my research and the possibility to connect with fellow PhDs. But what I expected to be a somewhat formal but usefully spend two and a half days turned out to be truly engaging, inspirational and enjoyable experience of a vibrant PhD community connected through interest in Human Geography.

The most enjoyable aspect of the Conference was the intellectual stimulation of diverse and current research topics such as community-led housing, digital labour or narco-drone just to name a few, and welcoming atmosphere which encouraged talking with others during breaks between sessions. And when we are at the subject of paper sessions, I must say that it was often hard to make a choice as to which session ranging from 3 to 5 topics to attend, as so many of them sounded really interesting!

Apart from paper presentations we could choose two out of eight workshops and the one I really liked was about misuse of statistics in the media. The speaker Dr Honor Young was very passionate about the topic and raised awareness about key misuses of statistics, predominantly in the British press. She also reminded us how not to engage with statistics by showing a famous clip of Russell Brand criticizing statistics as ‘the stuff people like you are using to confuse people like us’ on BBC Newsnight.

I also had an opportunity to present my research about previously unstudied financial arrangements called community shares. As I am on the third year of my doctorate, I reflected on my journey throughout my PhD and presented the initial findings. I received very positive feedback from the audience and was encouraged to start a blog about my research, which is an idea I would like to take forward in the future.

Finally, during the Economic Geography Research Group meeting led by Dr Crispin Fuller and facilitated by Amy Horton I became aware about the challenges facing Economic Geography as a subdiscipline in the field of Geography in the UK. I am very interested to learn more about this ongoing issue and contribute to this debate. Therefore, I am keen to participate in the upcoming one day workshop aiming to reassess the future role of Economic Geography, hosted by Cardiff School of Geography and Planning on the 1st of June.

The overall experience of the RGS-Midterm Conference was of true value to me as PhD researcher and aspiring scholar. I would encourage any Postgraduate student, especially PhD, with a primary interest in Geography to attend this event at any stage of their study, as it is unique opportunity to experience a friendly and highly stimulating atmosphere that keeps you inspired. I would like to thank the Economic Geography Research Group for the bursary and congratulate my colleagues from Cardiff School of Geography and Planning on the very successful organisation of the RGS- Midterm Conference.

Justyna Prosser, PhD Researcher at Cardiff University Sustainable Places Research Institute.


EGRG reception at RGS-IBG Postgraduate Forum Mid-Term Conference: More than a friendly reception

The RGS-IBG Mid-Term conference took place at Cardiff University in April, and was preceded by an Economic Geography Research Group reception that I was lucky enough to attend. This was a great chance for postgraduate researchers (PGRs) to share research progress in a friendly and constructive environment, as well as to meet PGRs from many universities in the UK who are working within the variegated geographical landscape of research topics. The different panel sessions were set up in a way that increased synergies among presenters, so the panel experience was brilliant for every postgraduate who spoke. Additionally, the coffee breaks, dinners and informal after-conference meetings were the ideal instances for consolidating the bonds developed through the conference. Considering this, I strongly recommend every postgraduate geographer to attend this conference.

However, the experience is better enjoyed if you are working within economic geography themes. Many RGS research groups offered receptions during the conference, but the one held by the Economic Geography Research Group (EGRG) was awesome. I am a young economic geographer – or that is what I am trying to be – and this reception was brilliant for offering a welcoming introduction to the EGRG, highlighting their objectives, activities, and opportunities for engagement among postgraduate students. The reception also offered some participatory activities for proposing possible activities to link PGRs in economic geography with the EGRG’s program, as well as to suggest ideas of how the EGRG might contribute to our research. This reception was also the perfect moment for meeting those postgraduate researchers that are working within economic geography and learning about their approaches, methodologies, and case studies. If you are a postgraduate student in geography, you should go the conference, but if you are working in economic geography, you must!

My sense at the end of the reception was that the EGRG is open to receiving postgraduate students, and there are no excuses for staying out of the group if you share research interest with them.  The EGRG does many things, and as postgraduates, there are plenty of other things that is possible to do within the group.

Felipe Irarrazaval (Manchester University)