This time last year, I was the PGF Masters Representative and, along with several others working on the PGF@Home initiative, focusing on the support we could deliver remotely during lockdown. This was particularly important given the cancellation of both the Mid-Term and Annual Conferences, as we wanted to give postgraduates from across the discipline the opportunity to network and socialise as they would in any in person event. We created videos to tell people more about what to expect and offered research group postgraduate representatives the opportunity to advertise their plans to support peers in their sub-disciplines too. Little did I know that my video on the Rural Geography Research Group’s plans would be the first of many I would be making to communicate with fellow geographers as chats over coffee at conferences became a thing of the past!
Our first PGF@Home event was a quiz hosted by Jamie Halliwell in May 2020 – at the time, an online quiz was something of a novelty and I know it was hugely enjoyed by all who attended! (We look forward to delivering, what we hope, will be an equally enjoyable quiz during our Mid-Term social, on Tuesday 20th April at 7pm) During this time, Phil Emmerson also provided us with some fantastic advice on academic publishing in a three part blog series. He was also joined by Rosie Cox and Alan Latham for an informative Q&A event in June 2020.
When I applied to be Chair of the PGF in May 2020, I carried a naïve optimism that as a committee we would be working on in-person social events by the second half of our terms, bringing everyone together to make up for those missed events. As it turns out, that wasn’t meant to be, but that hasn’t stopped us continuing to build on the early successes of PGF@Home. From July onwards, the PGF Committee largely took over the PGF@Home work, and since we’ve delivered seven events including our first ever Twitter Conference and a Geography Awareness Week collaboration with the AAG’s Graduate Student Affinity Group.
If someone had suggested a year ago that I’d be looking back on a calendar full of online events, I’d have been slightly disappointed, as I’ve always enjoyed catching up with friends at events throughout the year. Whilst there may have been moments early on where the cancellation of yet another event was frustrating, I can safely say I have not been disappointed with my time as Chair overall! Though it will be amazing to have in-person catch-ups once it is safe to do so, my perspective on virtual delivery has changed completely. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work on a wide range of virtual events with a fantastic Committee, postgraduate representatives from across the RGS research groups and a wider team within the RGS, particularly those in the Research and Higher Education division. I think this year has shown that, moving forward, a blend of virtual and in-person events will work well for postgraduate geographers across the UK and beyond.
I hope I’ve managed to (briefly!) convey what a great year I’ve had on the Committee, and how wonderful working with the postgraduate community has been, despite it being very different to the year many of us expected. If you’d like to hear more about the PGF’s activities this year, please do join us at our AGM on Wednesday 21st April at 5pm. You can register for all Mid-Term sessions here.
During the AGM, we’ll also be holding hustings for this year’s committee elections. If you’d like to know more about what being on the committee entails, take a read of Helen’s recent post.
If you see a role which interests you, please do consider applying using this form – nominations are open until Friday 30th April and we’ll be holding the elections in May.
Aimee Morse is the 2020-21 chair of the RGS-PGF Committee