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Retrospective: PGR Methods Workshop '22

September 5th, 2022

Written by Ami Crowther

On the 6th and 7th of July 2022, PGRs, ECRs and other individuals interested in methodologies came together on Zoom for the inaugural RGS Energy Geographies Research Group Methodology Workshop. Across the 2 days, keynote presentations, group discussions and panel sessions provided a range of insights and facilitated learnings about methodologies used within Energy Geography research.


The workshop was open to individuals at all stages of their research - including those just starting out and currently conducting fieldwork, to those analysing their data and writing-up results. This diversity of attendees enabled peer-to-peer learning and provided a useful networking opportunity (something particularly welcomed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic). 


There was global attendance at the workshop, with attendees joining from the UK, Italy, Nigeria, Romania, Samoa, Japan, Germany and China. Special mention to the participants from Australia who stayed up past midnight to contribute to the discussions taking place!


Split across 2 days, the workshop focused on 6 different broadly-defined methodology groups. Day 1 included: archival research, ethnographic research, digital methods and creative methods. With Day 2 focusing on: modelling and spatial methods. 


Keynote talks were provided by Prof Gavin Bridge, Dr Ping Huang (Day 1) and Dr Anne Owen (Day 2). Prof Gavin Bridge’s talk focused on how political ecology can be applied to energy research, with this being followed by Dr Ping Huang who discussed their use of document analysis and semi-structured interviews in research on China’s energy transition.  On the second day, Dr Anne Owen introduced carbon footprinting and how this method can be applied to carbon capture and storage technologies to support the development of an equitable energy policy. The keynotes provided the perfect opening to each day of the workshop - stimulating questions and providing discussion points which were explored throughout the day.


Before commencing the group discussion, workshop participants introduced themselves, their research interests and their methodologies to the broader group. These short, snappy presentations allowed individuals to get to know other attendees and facilitated networking.


Small group discussions enabled peer-to-peer learning, with workshop attendees sharing personal experiences, difficulties, insights and useful resources. Collective jamboards were created, providing a resource which participants are able to look back on in the future. The interaction between individuals at different stages of their research, with different experiences of the methodologies and focusing on different topics supported deep, insightful and productive discussions. 


The afternoon panel session saw a range of academics, across disciplines, career stages and methodologies come together to provide tips, tricks and handy insights to support attendees in undertaking, analysing, presenting and writing-up their research. On Day 1, the panel members included Dr Laura Pottinger, Dr Peter Forman and Dr Phil Jones. With Day 2’s panel being made up of Dr Amish Sarpotdar, Dr Timna Denwood, Marta Baltruszewicz and Oliver Broad. The informal nature of the panel session supported discussions, with panel members building upon the points made by each other so seamlessly it felt scripted (it wasn’t - I promise!). Before the panel session, workshop participants were split into smaller groups and given the chance to prepare questions which contributed to the flow of the session. 


The diversity of sessions provided, the range of speakers present and the engagement of the workshop participants resulted in an engaging and insightful couple of days discussing methodologies in energy geography.


As a final point, I would just like to say thank you on behalf of the organising committee of the workshop to all of the people that made the workshop what it was - to our wonderful keynote speakers, the knowledgeable panel members, and to the broader RGS committee members for helping develop the ideas of the workshop. Finally, to everyone that attended thank you for your contributions and the role you played in making it a successful event! 


We’ll be organising other events in the future so keep an eye out for those!