Welcome from Prof Andrew Deeks, UCD President
I am delighted to welcome you to UCD. Key topics to be discussed at this conference include: the outcomes of, and responses to, the economic crisis; climate change; rural restructuring; the spatial impact of public policy as well as broad environmental issues. The programme illustrates the relevance of a geographical education and research for a range of audiences and highlights the role that geographers and those in related disciplines can play in addressing major societal challenges as diverse as flooding and social equity. Geography is an integrative subject that has traditionally formed a bridge between the natural and social sciences and its natural inter-disciplinarity is a major strength. The holistic approach taken by geographers facilitates the connection of functional interrelationships that are sometimes overlooked through more narrowly defined approaches. In the current political-economic climate, a geographic approach is crucial to ensuring the spatial impact of public policy-making is fully understood and that particular places or groups in society are not adversely or unequally impacted. This matters at both the local and the global scale.
As Ireland repositions itself as a country in recovery, it will be important to understand and manage its interactions at a variety of scales. Geographers are well-placed to explain the transformation of old and discover new approaches to development, social change and environmental management, as well as to explore alternative understandings of taken-for-granted or everyday experiences. We are delighted to welcome Prof Mike Raco from University College London who will speak later this evening on the underlying politics of the Olympic Games redevelopment in London. His work challenges us to think more deeply about the way in which decision-making in our cities and other urban centres is being constructed and managed. It is also wonderful to see the Geographical Society of Ireland who co-host this conference collaborating with other organizations such as the Regional Studies Association. We welcome Prof David bailey from Aston University to give the RSA Plenary lecture tomorrow afternoon. These interactions really exemplify the inter-disciplinarity at the heart all of the activities of the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy here at UCD.
The programme that has been compiled for this conference is testament to the relevance, more than ever, of Geography as a field of study and research. This Conference provides an important opportunity to communicate research from right across the island not just within the academic community but more broadly.