Interdisciplinary Conference Success - Wales: Doing Things Differently

Rhiannon Pugh (School of Planning and Geography) and Helen Taylor (School of European Languages, Translation and Politics) recently organised a one day conference, funded by the University Graduate College and supported by the Innovation and Engagement Unit, that brought together researchers from across Wales to engage with topics relevant to contemporary policy-making in Wales. The conference was a great success and attracted keynote speakers Sarah Powell (Sport Wales) and Leanne Wood AM (Leader of Plaid Cymru) who presented on the concept of Wales taking an alternative or different approach and allowed Postgraduate Research candidates to showcase their work.

Rhiannon Pugh wrote of the event:

The funding was secured a year in advance, keynote speakers arranged months ago, the rooms and catering booked, name tags made and conference packs stuffed. We set our alarms early on Friday the 15th November and everything was ready for the 70 registered conference delegates arriving at 9.30AM.

The opening talk was given by Prof. Richard Wyn Jones of the Wales Governance Centre, who introduced the idea of Wales doing things differently and shared his thoughts on the benefits of conducting research in Wales. This was followed by a panel on conducting research in Wales featuring Prof. Scully and Francesca Dickson of Cardiff University and Nia Seaton from the Assembly Research Service. The next panel, on dissemination, featured Prof. Dylan Jones- Evans, Jess Blair from the Institute of Welsh Affairs, and Matt Francis from Our Future. The panellists all shared their experience and advice about conducting work in Wales and there was an opportunity for the audience to ask questions of the experts.

There were 8 research papers presented throughout the rest of the day from PhD students, researchers, and external experts on topics ranging from women in the Assembly, to health and education, to housing and transport. The keynote speech was given by Sarah Powell, CEO of Sports Wales, who inspired us with her talk about disability and women in sport in Wales.

The conference was closed by Prof. Robert Huggins, who talked about issues of the Welsh economy and culture, and the issues facing researchers in Wales. A separate evening event was linked to the conference, hosted by ourselves and the CPLAN Innovation and Engagement team. This was a talk on the subject of Wales doing things differently given by Leanne Wood AM, leader of Plaid Cymru. At least 60 people came to this talk and there were a number of interesting and challenging questions asked.

Finally, at 7pm the attendees had left and we could relax. It was a busy yet exciting and rewarding day. We would like to thank the Graduate College for supporting and enabling this event, and everyone who attended and contributed to the lively debates and discussions.