The travel award I received from the RSA was used to partially fund my attendance at the recent American Association of Geographers (AAG) conference in New York City held from February 24-28, 2012. This was my first time presenting at the event and while somewhat overwhelming in size and scope, I feel that it was an invaluable experience that has greatly enhanced my professional development. I used this opportunity to present on-going research on regional economic resilience in uncertain economic times.
The presentation focused on implementing a ‘hybrid’ theory of path dependence using a complex adaptive systems approach in two UK case study regions: North Wales and East England. In maintaining the evolutionary economic geography emphasis, the overarching issue that was explored related to how to apply the theory to specialised regions as path interdependence was a major theme in the hybrid theory. The data used in the presentation was gathered as part of a larger ESRC-funded project entitled ‘TRes: Territories and Technologies in an Unstable Knowledge Economy: An evolutionary framework for regional resilience’.
Through partially focusing on the complex adaptive systems approach, I was invited to be a part of an Interactive Style Paper (ISP) session organised by researchers from Oxford University. Unlike the traditional conference presentation sessions where each presenter gets 20 minutes of presentation time and there are 3-4 presenters in the session, the ISP limits the presentation to 5 minutes per person. This allows for a significant increase in the number of presenters who then serve as the basis for a 20 minute panel discussion. Given the size of the conference, I am very pleased that I was a part of this type of session as it helped me to network with other experts that are also in my field of research. Furthermore, the questions that the panel asked, as well as their feedback, provided additional insight into the core issues of the research that I plan to analyse as part of the larger project.
As part of the requirement by the RSA, I disseminated pamphlets about the organisation and their upcoming events. In addition to promoting the RSA, this provided me with another platform for networking both at my session and during larger networking events. Overall, I found meeting the RSA guidelines for the travel award at all phases to be extremely easy and a well-coordinated effort from their team.