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Conference Season: 2024



Over the past month, I've had the pleasure of attending two amazing conferences. The first was the Western Political Science Association conference in Vancouver. The second was held by the Urban Affairs Association in New York.


First, let me say that my time in these two cities was incredible. I've been near Vancouver twice, but this was my first time getting to experience the heart of the city in all its glory. Being so close to the water and the mountains makes for a really interesting urban environment and, though the challenges of the city were not hard to see, I think the city is getting a lot of things right. I guess there's a reason it consistently scores so high on live-ability.


New York was impressive in its own right, of course. I've never experienced such kinetic energy, and I was consistently reminded of the thrill Leslie Kern describes in her book Feminist City. We were adjacent to Times Square, and I made the walk up to Times Square before my flight home. I was unexpectedly sad to be leaving, though I'll plan to see more of the iconic sights next time I'm in town.


Both conferences were great, too. The WPSA conference seemed to have some challenges around attendance, but the panels I attended were interesting and unique. I managed to sit in on a panel discussion about the new Barbie movie (!!!) and it was great to be in such a rich theoretical space.


The UAA conference was more focused, and I was glad to be in the room with so many people interested in local government (a rarity at some of the other major conferences). There is so much going on at the municipal level, and the panels all did a great job of speaking to challenges around housing, transportation, and governance.


I found myself leaving both conferences rejuvenated, and excited to get back to my own research. I guess that's the point, but I think it becomes more obvious as you make your way out of graduate school and into the rest of your career. I felt the same way being able to reconnect with friends and colleagues at both events. Once the graduate-student-bubble pops, your connections become more spread out and conferences become a bit more of a lifeline.


I'm excited to see what comes out of the conversations I've had over this past month. Hopefully by the time the Canadian Political Science Association conference rolls around in June, I'll have turned all these ideas into something new.



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