Conferences – Exciting/Nerve Wracking/Huge Opportunity – Delete as appropriate!

Presenting at and convening conference sessions is a major part of the postgraduate experience – and so many of you have already had those experiences. This week, in a real flurry of news for me, I have been given the opportunity to do it for the first time – twice!

First came the news that my paper on Agreement for Sustainable Devolution for Cornwall has been accepted for the Association of Celtic Students Annual Conference at the Penryn Campus of the University of Exeter, and then, on Wednesday the ‘biggie’ – my proposal to convene two sessions at this year’s Royal Geographic Society Annual Conference on The Contemporary Growth of Regional Identity in Europe was accepted. Flippin’ ‘eck! Heady stuff for a Masters student!!

My initial reaction was that it was fantastic that my particular field of research was being validated by the wide academic community. We all plough our separate fields, engaged in our own areas of interest. At times, this can be a lonely existence, with the researcher often feeling: “This is of major interest to me – but does it have any wider currency?” At least, right now I can see that the answer is “Yes!” Then of course comes the associated “Oh My God, I’m going to have to share my particular range of research with a huge range of people whose levels of interest in what I am doing is considerably varied” and the consequences of this.

In my day job, as a primary school teacher, I have to get up and ‘present’ in front of 26 children 2.5 days a week, so you could be forgiven for thinking that it will all be a breeze, and there’s nothing to worry about – but somehow 8 year-olds are not such a nerve wracking audience for me!

It has been fantastic to see that so many of the Royal Holloway surgeons have also been successful with their applications to present or convene at this year’s RGS-IBG Conference. I guess I’ll see you all in Exeter!

Ben Gilby, MA Cultural Geography (Research)


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