I attended the NAAEE research symposium this week (9th to 10th October). It's years since I've been and I was happy to be there by virtue of the internet. It cost me $100 which is a bargain compared to conventional attendance when I'm not paying for flights, other transport, hotels, food, coffee, and beer. But just think of all that money not being tipped into the international and local economies many times over.
Of course, it wasn't the same as being there. The coffee was likely better for one thing, and when things got tedious, I opted out while keeping the computer running. And I could hide my body language when a session got under my skin. Being there and not being there; as ever, Schrödinger's cat lives and dies. I missed some people though. That's perhaps the main reason why face-to-face events such as these will only fade very slowly, if they fade at all.
The event had a lot of young researchers there which is glorious; mind you, almost everybody's younger than me these days. I do recall when it was the other way round, but too much talk like that risks self-indulgent nostalgia for the good old days. In terms of research, they might be old days, but they were not as good as now; too much methodological certainty for one thing. Too many old men of a certain ethnicity ruling the roost. The whole programme suggested that women outnumbered men by a long way in the meeting which is how I recall it from the last time I went; this time, though there seems to be more evidence of their being in promoted posts. I'm hope I'm right about that.
Inevitably the experience was mixed: from the stimulating to the self-indulgent. Some inputs seemed to have little connection to research. The nadir was surely the bloke who was looking forward to the overthrow of global capitalism – but not presumably not before his pension was paid. He had little to say about how to get from where we are (BOO!) to where he wanted us to be – somewhere, it seems with all Cuba's centrally planned positives without any of the repression. Good luck with that, then. What any of this brain dump had to do with research left me bewildered. The moderators loved it though.
The standout highlight for me was the joint presentation by Martha Munroe and Marcia McKenzie who spoke about Mobilizing Climate Change Education Research to Inform Policy and Practice. It was so good to hear two researchers on the top of their game, and what they talked about could hardly be more important and it was good to be reminded of what research is telling us.
I missed the discussion that followed (I’d already broken my no-computers after 8 rule) but look forward to catching up when the recordings are made available. So, was it worth $100? Well, in truth I paid the $100 in part to support NAAEE, so it was always going to be well spent. And the technology, I hear you ask; how well did it work? Well, for me, it was perfect, so well done NAAEE. Now I've got the conference itself to look forward to. More, anon, on that.