Reducing Academic Flight Symposium

participants in the room – twice as many again out there online

The Reducing Academic Flight workshop surpassed expectations by a long way. We knew we had a good bunch of speakers, but the range of talks was broader, and more apposite than could be anticipated. They ranged from hitting hard with the fundamental ethical trouble of flight – as banal evil (Johan Gardebo), indirect but real violence (Joseph Nevins) and key to making the climate emergency (Kim Nicholas) – through theoretically informed and deeply reflective understandings of the embeddedness of flying to academic practice (James Faulconbridge, Andrew Glover), the difference that Geography makes to the costs of cutting flying (Debbie Hopkins) and inescapable value of direct interpersonal engagement (Monica Buscher) to findings from surveys into climate scientists flight (Stuart Capstick), details of experiments in doing academia differently (Renee Timmers) and of institutional efforts to make a difference (Sion Pickering ). Contrasts were strong but they worked together to effectively unpick the vexed issue of academic flight and the challenges and opportunities facing measures to radically reduce air travel dependence in academia.

When Stephen Allen first got funding for us to run a workshop together on reducing academic flight, we thought we’d maybe manage to get half a dozen folk actively researching this into a room. But all dozen speakers we invited agreed to attend – and in the event did, making for a packed programme. Some modest advertising – more intended to spread news that it was happening than to encourage attendance – quickly took off and registrations amassed . We ended up with 30 rather than 6 in the room, and something like 80 people taking part remotely across more than a dozen countries via the collaboration platform – in addition to 4 international speakers presenting remotely. We do not have a firm figure for remote participatoin as some connections were to rooms of several people – including around 20 in Oslo.

We are working on an online repository for content from the day, and hopefully that will be a basis for further research and action from what seemed to be an energetic network brought together by the event.

Author: Matt Watson

A Human Geographer at the University of Sheffield, interested in how everyday human action and social orders make each other, with implications for sustainability and wellbeing.

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