The 46th UACES Annual Conference brought together over 500 researchers at Queen Mary University of London for 4 days of debate and discussion on teaching and researching the EU. Here, Paul Copeland (Queen Mary University of London), reports from the conference.
It should seem fitting that the first UACES Annual Conference after the UK referendum on EU membership should be held in London – one of only a small number of UK cities to vote overwhelmingly in support of EU membership. Brexit has come as a shock to all UACES members and it was difficult to avoid discussion of the issue; it wasn’t supposed to dominate the annual conference, but it did. Reassuringly, at the conference dinner Helen Drake (Chair of UACES) reminded members that the Association began life long before the UK joined the then EEC.
The two plenary sessions, the first focussing on the UK referendum, and the second on the EU’s international role, showcased the very best of academic thinking on the topics. They were both well attended and stimulated much discussion. The former Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister (2010-2015) Nick Clegg provided an excellent keynote discussion on London as a European city.
As well as the usual panel sessions, the conference hosted a number of fringe events which were designed to focus on the broader issues surrounding EU studies and the profession. The ‘meet the editors’ event enabled delegates to gain an insiders’ perspective on publishing academic articles. Participants said that it was incredibly useful, particularly the opportunity to ask questions on something so fundamental to our careers.
Despite the doom and gloom surrounding Brexit, the conference was a huge success and a glimmer of hope in a somewhat depressing moment in EU history. The 2017 UACES annual conference will be held in Krakow and we look forward to discussing EU developments there, as they continue to unfold.
Catch up on the conference proceedings via our dedicated conference Storify
Visit the conference website