Between 19th to 23rd April, the Postgraduate Forum Mid-Term Conference went wholly digital for the first time in its eight year history. Instead of a university to gather and converse in; we instead made our way to Zoom, Slack and Twitter, keen to provide a space in which postgraduate researchers could present their work following the cancellation of the 2020 Mid-Term. Balancing conference preparation and our PhD work presented its challenges, but with the support of the Research Group Postgraduate Representatives and the Research and Higher Education team, 17 online sessions were organised across the week. We are overwhelmed with gratitude to everyone who turned up to one or more of these sessions, all 300 of you! Without attendees and contributors, the conference would never have happened.
The sessions covered a variety of geographical subjects – from economic, to rural, urban, digital, Latin American, quantitative and many more. Each of these averaged 10 to 50 participants which is a fantastic turn out.
We were fortunate to have worked with Dr Maddy Thompson and Andy Harrod and Dr Sophie Hadfield-Hill and Dr Susanne Börner in developing a mental health workshop and a fellowship and funding workshop, respectively.
We also had a #GeogComm workshop which provided a space to discuss the role of geographical knowledge to a wider society. Catch up on live tweet threads featuring our fantastic panellists from the #GeogComm session below!
We are grateful to Dr Sarah Evans for pre-recording her talk on support offered by the RGS for postgraduate students, the link to which can be found in the tweet below.
Trying to keep to the usual activities found at conferences, we hosted a poster session on Slack and Zoom which was well received. Emeline Rougeaux (University College, London) was the winner of the poster competition and won a year’s RGS fellowship. Congratulations! The prizes continued with Olivia Engle (Birkbeck, University of London) winning a book token for workshop attendance and Seerat Kaur (University of Bristol) for winning the Tuesday night quiz. Because what is a pandemic event without a Zoom quiz? Again, congratulations and we hope you enjoy splashing out on new books.
This year’s keynote was delivered by Dr Sarah Percival from Liverpool John Moores University. In this keynote session, Dr Percival discussed her PhD work on coastal flood vulnerability. Focusing on the interdisciplinary nature of her work, Dr Percival presented a model which integrates physical and socio-economic vulnerability data in addition to coastal flood hazard analysis.
We were also very pleased that people engaged with us on Twitter throughout the conference. Our April tweets made 140,000 impressions! By moving between digital locales, we hoped to offer several platforms for networking which lessened ‘Zoom fatigue’.
This is the first time we have organised a conference in this format and we learned a lot throughout the week. We are grateful to everyone who has filled out our feedback form (you can still find it here if you’d like to tell us your thoughts). All feedback will inform detailed guidance notes which will be used in the development of future Mid-Terms and other Research Group events which are scheduled to take place online.
As a committee, the Mid-Term signals the end of our term. Soon, we will be handing over to the incoming committee for 2021-2022. We will announce their details on our website and Twitter in two weeks’ time, so stay tuned!
With huge thanks to everyone who has joined us on this digital journey. From our home to your home and all the spaces in-between,
The PGF Committee (@home) 2020-2021