This is my first Christmas letter as Chair of the Regional Studies Association. While we are pleased that Covid-19 restrictions have been loosened in much of the world, 2022 has still been a very difficult year for many of our members. I’d like to wish you my season’s greetings and best wishes for 2023.
I am honoured to have been elected as the 20th Chair of the Regional Studies Association at the AGM on 9th November 2022. I would like to thank my predecessor Professor Jessie Poon for her work in the most challenging of circumstances and her generous support as I pick up the reins.
What are we up to?
As we have reported before, Covid-19, whilst a global tragedy, provided opportunities for new ways of doing things. We embraced the value of webinars through our new webinar series – Regions, Cities and Industry webinars, and the Professional Development webinars, along with the International Hour and occasional events such as our Workshops for Early and Mid-Career Women in Regional Studies and Science.
Our AGM has never been so well attended as it is now, run on Zoom and preceded by online presentations by both our President, John Agnew and our Chief Executive, Sally Hardy.
The Association’s staff have cheerfully returned to the office working hybrid in an arrangement that suits them all. They have maintained the friendly, member-first attitude that defines them. I’m very grateful to them for their commitment to the community.
The Association thankfully returned to face-to-face conferences running the Central and East European Conference in Leipzig, Germany in September and the London-based Winter Conference in November. Both were sold out and both ran smoothly offering some hybrid functionality. We look forward to welcoming members to our first Annual Conference since the pandemic to be held 14-17th June in Ljubljana, Slovenia. It’s a wonderful city and I’m looking forward to a fantastic conference.
The RSA Hub, a smart phone and desktop app acting as a portal for RSA members and events has been upgraded to include new functionality, such as live questioning during virtual, hybrid and face-to-face events. The survey function has allowed awards to be agreed by the membership. If you do not have it on your phone, you can download it for free from your app provider – look for RSA Hub. In 2024 we hope to launch networking services through it and already you can access your journals here.
Research and Publishing
During the year we published two Policy Expo books, on Harnessing Global Value Chains for regional development and Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. Bucking the normal trend, the five RSA journals have broadly sustained higher submission levels since the pandemic when many saw a sharp increase and then a decline.
Excitingly in 2024 we will launch our sixth journal – Finance and Space to be edited by Dariusz Wójcik and Karen Lai. In 2023, we expect Rachel Franklin and her colleagues to publish the results of their research estimating pandemic related impacts on publishing in the RSA’s five journals.
Having suspended some of its networking grant schemes during the pandemic and started a new Pandemics, Regions, Cities and Industry grant scheme using redirected money, the Association is now restarting its Research Network scheme and its travel grants in 2023.
Formal Get Togethers or Hangouts?
The RSA is now doing a bit of both. Research Networks are up and running, but we have had great success with a very informal WhatsApp group for women members of the Association. We want members to be able to build their networks, and so further funding is going to RSA Europe in 2023 to support a face-to-face early career summer college. Interestingly a fair bit of community building in the field of cohesion policy has been taking place through the RSA-founded RSA Europe. This year they have co-organised the Third EU Cohesion Policy Conference with the Commission and Croatian Government, run two early career seminars hosted by Commissioner Elisa Ferreira, and been active again in the #EURegionsWeek University and College.
I congratulate all those who have been recognised by the Association in 2022 for their contribution to the field. In particular, I note with pleasure the introduction of a new award, the “Distinguished Service to Regional Studies” Award. You can go here to see who we celebrated across all our awards in 2022.
I recognise the hard work of all those active members who edit, referee and write for our journals, who speak, chair and attend our meetings, and who otherwise contribute to the well-being of our field. Thank you all.
I would like to warmly thank the Board of the RSA who appointed me as their Chair, and again to acknowledge the skill and dexterity shown by Jessie Poon in steering the Association through the difficult years of the pandemic and even more tricky times as we come out of the other side. The Board and Committees of the Association have been challenged recently as never before and have stepped up magnificently so that the Association remains in a strong financial position and with an active and engaged membership.
Finally, it would be wrong to finish without acknowledging the dedication and imagination shown by the RSA’s wonderful staff team who have ensured the RSA continues to be a thriving, inclusive and impactful organisation.
I am looking forward to my tenure and to navigating the opportunities and setbacks that no doubt face us, and I do this confident of the support of colleagues and the wider membership as we build the regional studies and science community together.
Professor Neil Lee
What’s on in 2023
We have been busy planning activities and support for the Regional Studies community for the New Year. There will be free webinars, in-person conferences, capacity training, research grants, financial support and awards. We hope you will find these useful and we are looking forward to seeing you in 2023!
Professional Development Webinar Series
This webinar series offers training and support for skills, knowledge and professional development on a variety of topics. Previous sessions’ recordings are available via the RSA members’ lounge.
- Working with Policy Makers: An Academic’s Perspective (Heike Mayer, University of Bern, Switzerland) – 01 Feb 2023, 13.00 GMT / 14.00 CET
- Grants and Funding: Writing for Policymaker Audiences (Phil Tomlinson and Mariachiara Barzotto, University of Bath, UK) – 03 May 2023, 13.00 BST / 14.00 CET
Regions Cities Industry Webinar Series
This webinar series presents acclaimed experts in the field of regional studies, science and policy.
- Connected and Autonomous Vehicles – The Challenges Facing Cities and Regions – Jan 2023, TBC
- Questioning Planetary Illiberal Geographies: Territory, Space and Power – 22 Feb 2023, 14.00 GMT/ 15.00 CET
- Social Infrastructure and Local Development – 15 Mar 2023
- Climate Governance and Urban Planning: Implementing Low-Carbon Development Patterns – 29 Mar 2023
- Going beyond population size: A relational perspective on small and medium-sized towns- 26 Apr 2023, 13.00 GMT/ 14.00 CET
RSA City and Regional Sustainability Transitions Webinar Series
This webinar series invites leading scholars from across these fields and offers stimulating discussion and debate about ways forward for understanding economic geographies of sustainability transitions, policy and academic communities.
- Sustainable Peripheries – 25 Jan 2023, 13.00 GMT/ 14.00 CET
- Complexity Research for Sustainability Transitions – Feb 2023
FinGeo Virtual Seminar Series
This series is organised by the RSA’s Research Network on Financial Geography (FinGeo).
o How Abu Dhabi Came To Manchester: Soft Power Enclaves And Sharp Power Conduits In The Manchester Life Build-To-Rent Joint Venture – 20 Dec 2022, 16.00 GMT/ 17.00 CET
2023 Annual Conference – Transforming Regions: Policies and Planning for People and Places
14 – 17 Jun 2023, Ljubljana, Slovenia
The Regional Studies Association’s Annual Conference 2023 #RSA23 will be our largest knowledge exchange and networking gathering in 2023. This four-day conference brings together academics and policymakers to exchange news, views and research findings from the fields of regional studies and science, regional and economic development, policy and planning. It will feature paper presentations, high-profile plenary speakers, a number of specially convened sessions, workshops, professional development sessions, policy streams, networking sessions, exhibitor stalls, walking tours and field trips. The social programme will include the conference dinner and a reception, side events, sport activities, and post-conference tours to explore Slovenia.
- Abstract submission is already open
- Early Career Plenary Speaker Competition closes 17 Jan 2023
- Conference Bursary application deadline is 30 Jan 2023
- Registration (conference fee payment) opens on 1 Feb 2023
- Special Session submission deadline 7 Feb 2023
- Abstract submission deadline 28 Feb 2023
2023 Winter Conference
9-10 Nov 2023, London, UK
More details to follow at www.regionalstudies.org/events-and-webinars/
Research grants, financial support and excellence awards
Nominations (both self-nominations and third-party nominations) of current members are being sought for the following awards in regional studies and related fields:
- Nathaniel Lichfield recent Master’s Award – for recent Master’s graduate who have graduated within the previous year;
- Paul Benneworth PhD Student Award– for registered PhD students who have not yet received their certificate.
- Routledge Early Career Award– for early career researchers defined as being within five years of the date on their PhD certificate or equivalent.
Value: £500 (c. $600; c. €570) and a certificate
Application deadline: 20 Apr 2023
The RSA offers its members up to £500 towards travel costs when attending a non-RSA event. Recipients of the Travel Grant must be members of the Association at the time of the application, at the time of travel and the claim.
Value: up to £500 (c. $600; c. €570)
2023 Application deadlines: 23 Feb, 25 May, 28 Sept and 23 Nov 2023
Early Career Research Grant Scheme
This award is open to single applicants in their early career (a maximum of five years between the date shown on the PhD certificate and the application deadline). This funding is provided to support a discrete piece of regional studies and/or regional science research. The grant has a maximum time span of 18 months and reporting conditions apply.
Value: up to £10,000 (c. $13,300; c. €11,800)
Application deadlines (Expression of Interest): 10 May 2023
Membership Research Grant Scheme (MeRSA)
The RSA Membership Research Grant supports a discrete piece of regional studies and/or regional science research. This research funding scheme is intended primarily to provide opportunities for mid-career scholars who have already published in the field of regional studies and science, and who are Individual Members of the RSA. The award has a maximum time span of 18 months and reporting conditions apply.
Value: up to £5,000 (c. $6,600; c. €5,900)
Application deadline (Expression of Interest): 10 May 2023
Fellowship Research Grant Scheme (FeRSA)
This award is open to Fellows of the RSA only. RSA Fellows are members who have been continuous members for a minimum of 5 years and who have also been defined as “active members”. This means that they have contributed to the life of the Association through serving on the Board or committees, have spoken at conferences, have applied for funding etc.
Value: up to £7,500 (c. $10,000; c. €8,900)
Application deadline (Expression of Interest): 10 May 2023
RSA Research Networks are formed by RSA members interested in meeting to examine an issue that responds to the aims and goals of the Association and is of interest and concern to members of the Association as well as non-members. The issue needs not necessarily to have a direct policy focus, but the examination would normally lead to policy-related conclusions.
Value: up to £10,000 (c. $12,000; c. €11800)
Application deadline: Autumn 2023 (TBA)
2023 Summer College for PhD students and Early Career Researchers
17 – 19 May 2023, Italy
More details to follow at https://www.rsaeurope.org/event/2023-summer-college/