Name of event: KOSMOS Conference – Navigating the Sustainability Transformation in the 21st Century, Humboldt University Berlin
The RSA Travel Grant allowed me to attend the KOSMOS Sustainability Conference in Berlin, where I presented a paper and also participated in a cutting-edge public conference format displaying some of my PhD work on low-carbon energy transitions. The conference provided an excellent forum for knowledge exchange and discussion of today’s great challenges towards sustainability and allowed me to interact with a great number of experts in the field. This was an invaluable experience that improved the quality of my publication following the conference meaningfully.
On the occasion of Alexander von Humboldt’s 250th birthday and in light of his famous Kosmos lectures, Humboldt University of Berlin staged the KOSMOS Conference ‘Navigating the Sustainability Transformation in the 21st Century’ in Berlin at the end of August 2019. The conference not only provided an excellent interdisciplinary forum for knowledge exchange and expert discussion of today’s great challenges towards sustainability, but it also featured cutting-edge public conference formats that opened the scientific inner circle to the public and politics. I was privileged to present my research on ‘Framing ‘just transitions’: discourses as facilitators and barriers of low-carbon energy transitions in Germany and Australia’ in both the topical session on ‘Publics and ethics of sustainability’ and in an innovative bar camp format that invited interested members of the public to join the expert forum. These opportunities to present and continue the conversation afterwards with experts, practitioners, citizens and affected stakeholders alike proofed to be very fruitful exercises for translating my research and for establishing working relationships with prospective interview participants. In the aftermath of the conference, I was able to conduct several key informant interviews, all of which have contributed invaluable insights to the next chapters of my research, and which have reinforced the theoretical arguments underpinning my analysis.
The various themes that were covered during the conference had a uniting focus on navigating the sustainability transformation in the 21st century as a whole-of-society task, thereby acknowledging differing transition dynamics depending on local contexts. Regional studies were therefore well-positioned within the conference themes.
Numerous presentations, including my own, examined policy responses that have been developed by European, national and sub-national actors (regional and local) and how regional dynamics influence policy implementation. I had the opportunity to promote the RSA and RSA opportunities offered to members during all the activities of the conference. In agreement with the conference organising committee, I displayed a number of RSA flyers and resources containing information about RSA activities and journals next to the registration desk and the foyer area. These resources attracted several interested parties and I was able to share my positive experiences as a member of the RSA community face-to-face. I also promoted the RSA online through my Twitter account [@lwollers] in the lead up, during and after the event.
Both my research and my article have greatly benefitted from the opportunity to attend the KOSMOS Conference and I would like to thank the RSA once again for the kind support. I encourage everyone to have a look at the numerous RSA initiatives and opportunities offered to members!