Early Career Research Network Research Conference

The Climate Emergency and Social Inequality –  Responses from Researchers in Wales 

Our first online Research Conference for Early Career Researchers took place on November 26th, 2021. The event addressed the climate crisis and social inequalities and encouraged an interdisciplinary dialogue amongst researchers based in Wales. 

Our event followed the COP 26 climate summit in Glasgow and was linked with COP Cymru (Wales Climate Week), showcasing the work of more than 20 ECRs. The Conference Call attracted proposals from all Welsh universities, and the speakers’ work spanned disciplines across STEMM, humanities, arts and social sciences. We were also pleased to have the participation of Dr Ben Raynor, Senior Research Manager at the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), who provided an overview of HEFCW’s Vision for Research and Innovation in Wales

The one-day programme included a keynote session on Climate Change: The potential and the challenges for cross-disciplinary responses by Professor Milja Kurki, and an afternoon session on The Role of Universities in Facilitating Academic Advocacy and Activism in the Climate and Ecological Emergency by Dr Aaron Thierry. 

A series of ‘lightning talks’ were organised in six themed sessions as follows:  

  • Session 1 – Interconnection, Participation and Decision Making: Approaches to Acting Globally 

Speakers: Dr Amaya Querejazu | Dr Caer Smyth | Dr Feng Mao 

Chair: Professor Ambreena Manji 

  • Session 2 – Learning from Communities’ Experiences: Envisaging Future Possibilities  

Speakers: Dr Hannah Hughes | Dr Nguyen Chien | Dr Luci Attala 

Chair: Professor Michael Woods 

  • Session 3 – Language and Translation: Issues of Representation and Social Justice

Speakers: Dr Ben Ó Ceallaigh | Dr Rhianedd Jewell | Dr Joanna Chojnicka 

Chair: Professor Mererid Hopwood 

  • Session 4 – Positive Approaches to Waste  

Speakers: Katherine Stewart | Dr Alvin Orbaek White | Dr Mehroosh Tak 

Chair: Professor Andrew Henley 

  • Session 5 – The Economics of Change: New Approaches to The Climate Crisis  

Speakers: Dr Siobhan Maderson | Jamila La Malfa-Donaldson 

Chair: Dr Cara Reed 

  • Session 6 – Energy Systems: New Technologies and Approaches   

Speakers: Dr Simon Middleburgh | Marina Kovaleva | Dr Rhiannon Chalmers-Brown 

Chair: Professor Karen Henwood 

We closed the conference with a detailed roundtable discussion: Will technologies designed to decarbonise homes exacerbate or reduce social inequalities?  

Speakers: Dr Kate O’Sullivan | Dr Rachel Hale | Dr Elli Nikolaidou | Dr Deborah Morgan 

Chair: Jonathan Adams, Jonathan Adams + Ptns Architects 

We thank all the speakers who presented their cutting-edge work and our Fellows and members of our ECR Network who supported the organisation of the event. The discussions held throughout the day were fascinating, and we appreciate attendees’ engagement with the different themed sessions. It was a successful conference with more than 80 participants joining.   

Feedback from members of our ECR Network speaking at the event:  

“Listening to the other speakers was the most meaningful experience for me.”

“I was delighted to combine literature in climate research and present relevant information to the attendees. Some examples were dedicated to the UK, and I was happy to answer a question from the audience.” 

“The opportunity to work with colleagues from other disciplines on the roundtable discussion.”

“The conference allowed me to talk about my work to a broader interdisciplinary audience, and it was very interesting to learn about the research being conducted on climate change from different disciplines. It was useful for networking too.”

“Obviously it was rewarding for me to have an opportunity to disseminate my own research but more than that, listening to other researchers was even better. I found it interesting to see where my research shares similarities with another research and, also, where it differs. I’ve been stuck on a particular aspect of theory, but another researcher mentioned some literatures that will really help me. Her subject was not the same as mine and perhaps I needed to listen to inter-disciplinary research in order to have had this input.”