About the Summer Institute
The Summer Institute represents a unique approach to advanced graduate training and early-career professional development for those entering the field of economic geography, oriented to the highest standards of international practice. By bringing together a group of active young researchers from around the world and a small group of internationally renowned faculty, the Summer Institute seeks to make a distinctive contribution to the ongoing development and social and intellectual “reproduction” of the subdiscipline, complementing existing graduate training and faculty mentoring programs.
The Summer Institute seeks to invigorate discussions across the community of economic geographers concerning enduring issues like ethics and research methods, while constructively ventilating contemporary controversies and debates in this fast-moving field. And it has actively facilitated network-building and mutuality of respect and understanding amongst the rising generation of economic geographers, many of whom made a transition into successful careers in the universities and beyond.
Since its inaugural meetings in Wisconsin in 2003 and Bristol in 2004, the Summer Institute has moved to a biannual cycle. The Summer Institute is open to advanced doctoral students (usually after the fieldwork stage), postdoctoral researchers, and recently appointed faculty (normally within 3 years of initial continuing appointment) from around the world.
Now firmly established in practice, the goals of the Summer Institute in Economic Geography are:
- to provide participants with an in-depth understanding of the innovatory developments and continuing challenges in the field of economic geography, broadly defined;
- to facilitate more effective communication, lateral learning and innovation, and mutual appreciation across what has become diverse field, in methodological, theoretical, geographical, and substantive terms;
- to enable the growth of collaborative and professional networks for early-career economic geographers, across an international peer group;
- to support the internationalization of research/research training in economic geography; and
- to complement and add value to extant programs of graduate training/early-career mentoring.
The Summer Institute provides a unique opportunity to investigate—in a residential workshop setting—a series of leading edge theoretical, methodological, and research-practice issues across the field of economic geography, along with a range of associated professional and career development matters. The program deliberately leaves a certain amount of space for unstructured interactions, while featuring a wide array of formal sessions on topics, ranging from interrogation of emergent literatures and current debates to the evaluation of innovative methodological approaches, and from skills development in areas like grant applications and journal publishing to the consideration of economic-geography careers inside and outside the academy.
The following approach has been developed and refined through previous meetings of the Summer Institute:
- A “catholic” view of economic geography is adopted, building upon its strength as a variegated field which spans everything from regional science to feminism and Marxism. The Summer Institute does not have an “editorial” position, but seeks instead to open up dialogues across the field (and indeed into cognate disciplines like Sociology, Economics, Urban Planning, Anthropology, Development Studies, and Political Science—all of which have been represented at previous meetings). The Summer Institute does not attempt to impose a particular intellectual project or favored methodology, but seeks instead to work within and strengthen subdisciplinary traditions of vigorous pluralism.
- A singular and sustained focus is placed on the needs and interests of the “rising generation” of early-career economic geographers, those who will make the field their own in the coming years, the intention being to facilitate mutual understanding across this variegated field; to enable emerging scholars to build networks, nationally and internationally; and to augment research capacity.
- There is an emphasis on the continued internationalization of economic geography, both as a community of practitioners and as a field of research practice.
- In contrast to the hurried and pressurized format of conventional, large-scale conferences, the Summer Institute seeks to establish relationships and extended conversations, reflected in (a) its format as a 6-day meeting, involving time for “off-program” conversations (e.g. during evening or social events, and during field trips) and (b) the practice of combining conventional research presentations with a range of alternative session formats (such as roundtable discussions, “practicals” on proposal writing and the deconstruction of syllabi, Q&A sessions with journal editors, etc.). In other words, the Summer Institute is not “just another conference.”
The Summer Institute occupies a previously unfilled niche in organizational terms, meeting a need for a relatively small, extended meeting oriented to early-career researchers, in which there are a range of opportunities for deliberation, reflection, and sustained discussion. The program of activities includes:
- Plenary presentations from each of the featured contributors, typically focused on major debates or advances in the field or reflections on the economic geography research “process” itself (embracing issues research design, ethics, access, dissemination, links with non-academic interests and constituencies, and so forth).
- Thematic discussions, debates, and conversations, dealing with major issues confronting economic geography, including defining the “boundaries” of economic geography; the relationship between economic geography and its sister disciplines; questions of social and policy relevance; and methodological training in quantitative and qualitative research.
- Skills-based sessions on writing for journals, successful grant applications, working with the media, and combining academic and consultancy or policy research, and teaching economic geography. Featured speakers at the Summer Institutes possess broad experience of publishing and journal editing, of writing and evaluating research proposals, of working and teaching in various institutions and national “systems,” and of different kinds of research practice.
- A day-long fieldtrip provides an opportunity for participants to spend some time outside the seminar room, getting to know their host region.
The Summer Institute is open to:
- Currently registered doctoral students (excluding those in the first year of study).
- Postdoctoral researchers in universities, public and private organizations, research centers, think tanks, and NGOs.
- Recently appointed faculty/lecturers in temporary or permanent positions (normally within 3 years of initial appointment).
- Other young researchers with an active interest in economic geography, broadly defined, and those new to the field. Applications from researchers in cognate fields are welcomed, and broad international participation is especially encouraged. Participation at Summer Institute meetings is limited to around forty. Selection decisions are made by an international panel.
Profile of Summer Institute in Economic Geography participants, 2003-2010
|By institutional affiliation||26b|
a By country of birth (n participants): Argentina (2), Australia (5), Austria (1), Belgium (2), Brazil (4), Bulgaria (1), Cambodia (1), Canada (30), China (3), Colombia (2), Czech Republic (3), Denmark (3), Germany (16), Greece (1), Hungary (2), India (7), Indonesia (1), Ireland (3), Israel (1), Italy (5), Japan (1), Macedonia (1), Malaysia (2), Mexico (1), Netherlands (3), New Zealand (7), Norway (3), Poland (2), Portugal (1), Romania (1), Rwanda (1), Singapore (2), South Africa (1), South Korea (6), Spain (2), Sweden (2), Switzerland (1), Taiwan (2), Tanzania (1), Turkey (3), UK (31), USA (66), Zimbabwe (1)
b By country of academic affiliation (n participants): Australia (6), Belgium (2), Brazil (2), Canada (29), China (3), Czech Republic (3), Denmark (3), Germany (6), Greece (1), Hungary (1), India (2), Ireland (4), Italy (2), Malaysia (1), Netherlands (3), New Zealand (1), Norway (2), Poland (1), Singapore (4), South Africa (1), South Korea (2), Sweden (2), Switzerland (4), Turkey (1), UK (65), USA (93)
A Steering Committee oversees the development of the Summer Institute, pursues funding opportunities, and plans the schedule of meetings. The Steering Committee comprises the following members:
- Jamie Peck, (chair) University of British Columbia, Canada
- Yuko Aoyama, Clark University, USA
- Christian Berndt, University of Zurich, Switzerland
- Neil Coe, National University of Singapore, Singapore
- Amy Glasmeier, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
- Victoria Lawson, University of Washington, USA
- Kris Olds, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
- Adam Tickell, University of Birmingham, UK
- Henry Yeung, National University of Singapore, Singapore
The Summer Institute has benefited from the support of Economic Geography since its inception. Financial support from the National Science Foundation, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Hallsworth Fund at Manchester University, the Office of UBC's Vice President for Research, Sage Publications, Worldwide Universities Network and the University of Zurich is gratefully acknowledged.