Annual Fund support for student-led initiatives

Over the 2012/13 academic year, the Annual Fund continued to support student-led academic initiatives, exemplified, to a large extent, by a number of conferences which have taken place through its backing. Such conferences provide outstanding opportunities for PhD students to network, collaborate and share research with one another, while also providing valuable experience for the organisers in event management.

One such conference was the 'Growing up with HIV in Africa Conference', run by Sara Belton (PhD Social Psychology 2014) and hosted in June. The event brought together pre-eminent researchers from both LSE and the global HIV/AIDS community, enabling them to network and contribute towards a seminal research journal in Children and Youth Services Review. Sara decided to organise the conference due to the distinct lack of research into the transition of HIV-infected children into adolescence and adulthood. “The opportunities to do this are extremely rare due to the current funding climate and limited fora to meet on an interdisciplinary level,” she said. “It was a huge success that created a network of professionals who are now collaborating on highlighting important and innovative work being done for children with HIV and AIDS.” Attendees came from over 15 countries and 23 contributed journal articles, with the journal due to come out at the end of 2013.  

June saw Maria Carvalho (PhD Geography and Environment 2014) host an interdisciplinary PhD networking conference over a day at Goodenough College. This enabled PhD students to present their research to their peers, build potential collaborative research links across disciplines, participate in professional and personal development workshops and network with each other. Twenty-one students participated over six sessions, and Maria hopes it will become an annual event. “Annual Fund support has been indispensable in creating the start of a new tradition at LSE,” she said. A short film summarising the conference is available online.

The student-led Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism (ASEN) hosted its 23rd annual conference in April. This year’s theme was 'Nationalism and Revolution', examining the vital yet neglected links between the two concepts, looking at theories, historical connections and contemporary issues. Over 165 attendees enjoyed talks from six keynote speakers, including Dr Charles King from Georgetown University and Professor Krishan Kumar of the University of Virginia. “The Annual Fund played a fundamental role in bringing acclaim and prestige to ASEN,” said conference Chair Pheroze Unwalla. All keynote speeches can be seen on ASEN’s YouTube channel.

Benjamin Ferguson (PhD Philosophy 2013) organised a student-led academic philosophy conference, in partnership with Bayreuth University in Germany. This comprised of eight student papers and two faculty keynote addresses. “The event was a far greater success than I could have imagined,” said Benjamin. “Students from both universities were very interested in each other’s work, and faculty were able to meet and network with each other. A conference like this is an innovative opportunity to foster cultural ties and share ideas.” Benjamin is already planning next year’s conference in Bayreuth.