It is with great sadness that we learnt of the passing this week of Paul Benneworth on Tuesday 12th May. Paul was a long-time friend of the Regional Studies Association, a great contributor to our journals and our governance and he will be greatly missed. Paul passed away in his sleep and our thoughts are with his family and in particular his wife and two children.
A message from Sally Hardy
Paul obtained his first degree in human geography from Oxford University and his PhD in economic geography from the University of Newcastle where he also held an ESRC Post-doctoral Fellowship and was appointed to a Research Councils UK Academic Fellowship in Territorial Governance of Innovation in the Knowledge Economy. Most recently Paul was a Professor of Innovation and Regional Development at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. He was also a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) at the University of Twente in the Netherlands where he remained to supervise and support his students.
Paul’s colleagues at the University of Twente have been quick to publish a tribute to Paul including some of his key professional appointments and we don’t seek to replicate that here. What we do wish to do is to remember and celebrate Paul’s close and long-standing links with the RSA.
Paul joined the Association in 1998 at the beginning of his career as a student doing his PhD in Newcastle at the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies, which is itself a long time corporate member and close ally to the Association.
Paul first interacted with us as a regular attender at our events and conferences. He was always confident and articulate. He was also thoughtful and thought provoking. He made friends within the RSA staff team and began to be involved in strategic thinking and he served on the RSA Board for three years as the student member and was re-elected when his editorial service began.
Paul was more than a thinker, it was one of the most appealing sides of his character that he was also a “doer”. He was a ready volunteer and hard worker. Paul began his active membership of the Association when he became Editor in Chief of the Association’s then printed version of its newsletter – Regions. He edited Regions from 2004 until 2007. He spent time then developing ideas around capacity building for early career researchers – a life long passion for him and attested to by the number of younger researchers who have reached out to the Association in distress about his passing, and saying that he had been a key part of their early career.
From 2009 until 2013 Paul led a team editing the publication Regional Insights. This publication sat alongside Regions for many years and was distributed to the membership twice a year. It published the work of early career researchers and considerable editorial mentoring effort lay behind it. The idea had been to create a publishing venue for early career researcher’s first articles. As the world of publishing moved more online and open access became more established, in 2014 the Association launched gold open access journal Regional Studies, Regional Science.
An important part of this new journal was the Early Career Mentored Paper section with Editor in Chief, Paul Benneworth. The Association’s Board had recognised the strength of Regional Insights and incorporated it within a formal journal and also put the money behind it to pay the article processing charges for all early career researchers whose papers were accepted. Paul led this section of the journal from 2013 until 2016 when he passed the baton to Marcin Dabrowski. With upwards of 15 articles published a year during Paul’s editorship he, and his team of co-editors launched the publishing careers of many researchers.
Paul remained a close friend of the Association throughout his career. He published frequently himself with around 300 articles and 8 books to his name and his research legacy will not be forgotten but for those of us that knew him it is his personal enthusiasm and drive that will stand out and his generosity to those at the start of their careers.
We now think of his friends and in particular of his young family.
For a full obituary visit his university website – https://www.utwente.nl/en/bms/news/2020/5/615595/in-memoriam-paul-benneworth
Images show Paul at the 2013 RSA Tampere Conference, the 2016 RSA Graz Conference and the 2015 Piacenza RSA Conference