Dear RSA friends,
The motif for this year must be one of political shocks – most notably the UK’s Brexit from the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as President in the USA. These popular vote decisions mark a period of certain change in the world. In responding to these world events the RSA is evolving new ways of working which supports its members and through them, the wider regional studies and science communities and the worlds of policy and practice.
In 2017 the RSA will launch its Brussels based office. This will be underpinned by a new legal entity funded by the RSA and allowing the Association to continue its close and important relationship with the EU institutions. By having a European based office we will better support our mainland European members.
As well as serving our European members the Association agreed in 2016 to launch Divisions in both India and Russia. In 2016 we were able to open our project office in Latin America at CEDEPLAR, University of Belo Horizonte which will grow our presence in Latin America and work on the LA conference for 2017.
RSA has also anticipated the growing number of calls to ensure that as we all tackle the big societal questions that we do not get locked only into the Euro-American research tradition. Our new journal, Area Development and Policy which published its first three issues in 2016 neatly avoids this danger. Aimed at the Greater BRICS, it allows authors to publish in their own research traditions and in less than a year has the same number of submissions as each of our other three new start journals. In December all members will receive the bound volume of ADP’s inaugural year issues. The journal has been submitted to the Web of Science, Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI). This year also saw Territory, Politics, Governance and Regional Studies, Regional Science (RSRS) joining Scopus and RSRS being listed as an A journal in the Australian Business Deans Index used in 11 countries.
The conference programme has been packed this year with events in Graz, Austria; Seville, Spain; Newcastle and (several in) London, UK; Henan, China; St Petersburg, Russia; Minais Gerais, Brazil and Atlanta, USA. In addition to this are events where the RSA plays a core role such as the European Week of Regions and Cities in Brussels, Belgium; the International Geographical Union, Beijing, China and the American Association of Geographers, San Francisco, USA. RSA has hosted close to 4,000 people at these events an increase of 52% over 2015.
Membership has increased by 20% compared to 2015. We are also rejuvenating ourselves with 44% of our members being now Students or Early Careers. In fact, we are pleased to announce that the highest growth in 2016 of 22% was in the Student category. And we are of course global with members in some 68 countries.
A USP for the RSA is its role in policy and in 2016 we have worked hard to develop our Policy Expo grant programme which makes up to £15,000 available to teams to bring policy findings from bodies of research to key policy makers and practitioners. The calls in 2016/17 are in the fields of industrial policy, global migration and climate change, adaptation and governance. The Association awarded four £10,000 early career grants one fellowship and two membership grants, three £10,000 research network awards along with a host of travel funds and conference bursaries.
We often say that our Association is only as good as our members are active. Our values are to be a leading and impactful community. In 2016/17 the Association will launch its Centers’ Programme bringing together key centers globally to exchange best practice, facilitate bid readiness, advertise internships and visiting fellow programmes, courses and job opportunities and support career development. We welcome center leaders to contact us about this work.
2017 will be a hectic year of activity including the annual conference in Dublin (June), the Peking U conference in August and conferences in Brazil and Romania among others. All this will be orchestrated by the RSA team from their new premises in the University of Sussex Innovation Centre. This move gives our staff access to the library, university departments and leisure amenities of the University and we hope it will support our recruitment and retention strategies so that we capture the expertise that has been built.
In closing I’d like to warmly thank my many colleagues on the Association’s Board and Committees, all these volunteers give their time and energy freely and with generosity and it is my privilege to serve alongside you. I’d also like to particularly thank our colleagues in the RSA office who form part of the foundation of the Association and whose commitment, expertise and enjoyment of their work is an inspiration, we are very lucky to have them.
I extend to all of you the season’s greetings and look forward to working with you in the months to come,
Regional Studies Association