International Conferencing and the Perks of Academic Life

Luca Augé |

Undertaking a research project is a pleasurable and yet sometimes solitary enterprise. You spend much of your time reflecting on your ideas, reading your way through libraries, writing down your conclusions and putting everything together in a single document. Researchers, even in collective projects, often do this process on their own. This is a style of working that I got used to since starting my PhD at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris in September 2021 and that I learned to enjoy intellectually.  

In the wide world of academia, there is another specific moment which I equally learned to adopt and enjoy: conferencing and in particular international conferencing. In that regard, UACES has been a great help. A few weeks after attending the Graduate Forum in Barcelona, UACES provided me with financial support via its Microgrant programme to participate in the 2023 European Consortium for Political Research General Conference. 

The ECPR General Conference brought together around 2,000 academics from around the world in Prague for a few days to discuss a variety of contemporary political science research topics. I was selected as a presenter for the panel ‘Parties under Pressure: Party Divisions and Party Change’ chaired by Kristina Weissenbach. My paper ‘Johnson and Let’s Keep Brexit Done: The Impact of Conservative Party Management on the UK’s Policy on Europe’ covered elements of my PhD and specifically dealt with one of the statecraft theory dimensions by Jim Bulpitt that underpins my theoretical framework. 


My participation at the conference enabled me to present parts of my PhD to an international audience. The feedback received at the panel and subsequent informal discussions provided input to guide the further reflection for this paper and more widely for my PhD. It greatly complemented comments already received at other academic events and helped to identify the strengths as well as the current weaknesses of my approach that still need to be addressed.   

On a more personal note, the participation at this conference also allowed me to discover Prague. It was my first time in the city, and in Czechia, but I was so impressed by the history, architecture, culinary scene, and lifestyle that I will gladly come back. My recent transfer to Berlin means that Prague is reachable by train in under 5 hours. The ability to combine work and leisure only made this conference more stimulating. 

For all these reasons, I am particularly grateful to UACES for this Microgrant that made my participation at the ECPR 2023 General Conference possible. The funds helped me to complement the logistical costs and allowed me to fully focus on participating in the event. As a PhD student, I am thankful for this opportunity and I am happy to be able to contribute to such international conferences. They are really intellectually, professionally, and personally a major perk of academic life. 



More about the Microgrant Scheme:

The UACES Microgrant scheme is aimed at supporting research for our Early-Career and Individual Members.

The microgrants scheme will provide grants of between £100 and £500 to UACES members to assist them to cover the costs of undertaking their research. The grants are designed to recognise the challenges facing researchers at this time.