On 3rd February 2023 the ESRC SCDTP hosted its annual Final Year Conference, showcasing research conducted by final year PhD students. Hosted online by the student organising committee, this delightfully well-organised event was an inclusive and accessible celebration of research.
The day started with an introduction from ESRC SCDTP Director, Professor Athina Vlachantoni, followed by inspiring talks from keynote speakers Professor Phil Haynes and Professor Nils Niederstrasser. Before presentations began, Clinical Psychologist Dr Andrew Merwood invited us to take part in a short mindfulness activity, which was a welcome opportunity to practise the art of resting and being present in the moment.
Morning and afternoon sessions were divided so that presentations from each of four Thematic Pathways ran concurrently, with attendees able to move between breakout rooms to see presentations across different pathways.
As an SCDTP Equality, Diversity and Inclusion champion, I was pleased to observe that a great deal of the research presented dealt with themes relating to social justice, equity, inequalities, participation, and inclusion, and spanned areas such as sustainability, reproductive justice, energy justice, neurodivergence, disability, mental health and wellbeing, and LGBTQ inclusivity. The recommendations made by presenters, the applications suggested, and further directions for research inspired hope for positive progress and social change.
I came away thinking about how some of these issues intersected with, and could contribute to my own PhD research, about how some of the methods described could be used for my own data collection, and with a greater insight into areas outside of my own of specialism. I left feeling an overwhelming sense of pride: Pride in the committee who did such an exceptional job of organising and hosting the event, pride in my fellow PhD colleagues who delivered such high-quality presentations, and pride in being part of such an encouraging, supportive, and aspirational cohort.