Yesterday we welcomed close to 2,000 delegates from across the world to the first day of this year's Annual International Conference.
This year’s conference theme, Geographies of trouble/ geographies of hope was chosen by Chair of Conference, Hester Parr from the University of Glasgow. She said: “The theme was chosen to reflect the political, environmental and cultural shifts happening across the contemporary world, many deeply troubling and which seem to be demanding the attention of geographers. We all need hope in times of trouble, however, and geographers are well-placed to respond to our current planetary challenges and potentially enable pathways for positive change.”
Wednesday’s research highlights included:
Understanding what it is to be human
The opening plenary session, led by panellists Felicity Callard and Jessica Pykett, discussed the blossoming and unexpected relationships forming between neuroscientists and human geographers working together to understand our ‘humanness’. Looking at how two subjects not normally associated with each other engage, the keynote speakers revealed how the colliding disciplines can cause ‘productive trouble’ as well as helping to solve the challenges of translating brain data into successful urban planning, workplace wellbeing initiatives and education, social and economic policy.
Felicity said: “There is so much we don’t yet know about how mind and brain relate to each other – by mixing things up between geography and neuroscience, surprising and serendipitous results emerge and provide new insights and ways forward.”
Jessica added: “Geography has a long history of engagement with ideas from psychology and neuroscience, advancing our understanding of the relationship between the mind and environment. Geography offers an important alternative explanation for human action, decision making and behaviour which puts our minds and brains in a spatial context.”
Food aid services combat loneliness
According to new research presented on Wednesday, food aid services in Bristol are providing more than just food aid to the communities who use them. Lucy Jackman, from Swansea University, revealed in a recent study of 21 people that these essential services provide a much-needed public space to their clientele seeking refuge from the solitude and loneliness of living either in shared accommodation, on the streets or in vans or tents. She described how an encounter with others in a warm place created structure to the day or week, adult conversation for those with children, feelings of being cared for, and increased the participants' wellbeing.
Lucy said: “Regular social eating connects people and creates and builds these relationships, yet they’ll continue to be spaces associated with shame and embarrassment so long as people don’t have the choice not to use them”