30 Jun 2014

Because of the high interest level regarding the association’s student and early careers social events that recently took place, our Early Career Representative Julie Miao was kind enough to put together some notes regarding the recent event that took place in Izmir, and to describe what those that could not attend missed.

Following a long discussion and careful preparation, the Regional Studies Association Students & Early Career Social Event Serials was officially launched on 16th June 2014, along with the Association’s European Conference in Izmir, Turkey

The launch event comprised of four parts: 1) Skill workshop; 2) ‘Speed-dating’; 3) Social slot and; 4) ‘Wish box’ and lucky draw.

Part 1: Skill Workshop

This workshop was jointly organized by the RSA’s Early Career Representative Julie Miao and the editors of the Early Career Research Section of the new RSA journal, Regional Studies, Regional Science.  The main focus of the workshop was ‘How to Make an Impact’. The idea was to bring together the more experienced scholars, early career researchers and students for an exchange of knowledge and best practice, regarding how researchers can engage with communities beyond the academy to make sure that their research makes an impact.

Six highly experienced speakers had kindly accepted the role of plenary speakers, including Prof. Martin Johns (Department of Geography, Sheffield University); Sally Hardy (CEO of RSA); Prof. Nicola Bellini (Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna University, Italy); Prof. Margareta Dahlström (Karlstad University, Sweden); Prof. Ron Boschma (Urban and Regional research centre Utrecht (URU)); and Dr Adrian Healy (Planning and Geography, Cardiff University). Each plenary speaker had five minutes to offer their insights on how to make impact, and the tips given had covered wide areas from publishing, consulting, conferences/events, to socialising, time management, and career plan making.

Part 2: ‘Speed-dating’.

After the plenary speech and refreshment break, attendances were divided into four groups with randomly assigned plenary speakers. Each attendant could then have ten minutes to ‘draw attention’ from plenary and seek advices based on their particular questions. Then these ‘matches’ between plenary participants and attendants were broken up and reformed into new discussion groups. In this format, both the plenary participants and students/early careers became fully engaged, and everyone would had the opportunity to meet each other. Questions asked by the students and early careers were too diverse to summarise, but our voluntary ‘note-takers’ had done a fantastic job in terms of taking notes during the ‘dating’ process, as well as summarizing the key questions raised at the end of discussions.

You can read one these talks recorded by our colleagues Anna Sznajder here.

Part 3: Social slot

A more relaxing social time followed these exciting discussions and ‘dating’ exercises. Drinks and snacks were provided by RSA for attendants to sample. Many decided to stay longer than the assigned two-hour session slot, either catching up with old friends or exploring common ground with new friends.

Part 4:  ‘Wish box’ and lucky draw

Feedbacks and advices were sought from all students and early career attendances in order to improve the social series. All the participants confirmed these events could bring added-value to the RSA, and they especially appreciated the effort RSA had put in organising this event. An interactive format, such as our ‘speed-dating’, was also preferred by participants.  The Chair of the RSA, Professor Andrew Beer, and CEO Sally Hardy, drawn two lucky participants from our ‘wish box’ and they were announced in the conference’s Gala dinner the following day. 

Detail of some the ‘Top-tips’ from the plenary, and summary discussions of ‘Speed-dating’ are to follow.