The Rural Quadrennial conference brings together geographers from the UK Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers) (RGS-IBG) Rural Geography Research Group, the United States’ American Association of Geographers Rural Geography Specialty Group and Canadian Association of Geographers Rural Geography Study Group.
The conference is held every four years in the UK, Canada or the USA, with each group having 12 places to award to scholars. The ‘Quadrennial’ held its ninth conference this year in Vermont, USA, organised by Dr Cheryl Morse (University of Vermont) and Professor Peter Nelson (Middlebury College).
Dr Andrew Maclaren, a Teaching Fellow in Geography at Aberdeen, was awarded an Early Career Researcher grant by the RGS-IBG’s Rural Geography Speciality Group to attend the conference.
Andrew’s contribution to the conference drew on his recently completed doctoral research exploring everyday lives of older people in rural communities in Scotland. Elements of this research have recently been previously published in Sociologia Ruralis and most recently on theoretical and methodological approaches in rural geography published in the journal Geography Compass .
This year’s Quadrennial theme was ‘Working Landscapes and Liveable Communities’ with thematic breadth including everyday rural lived experiences, migration, rural resource extraction, rural planning and development. The concentration of scholars, organisation of sessions, fieldrips and social activities contributed to a close group environment where participants were able to properly engage with all attendees and share about their work in detail, more so than is normal at many other conferences.
Vermont is an incredible place to host such an event as it allowed participants to share their research through conference presentations at two wonderful locations: the University of Vermont’s campus and the Sugarbush Mountain Resort. Participants got to hear about and discuss pressing rural concerns, as well as ‘get out of the armchair’ and into the field for experiential learning through visits to several Vermont-based working landscape and rural community enterprises. In addition, meetings and roundtables were arranged with local and regional community groups, such as the Vermont Community Foundation, American Association of Retired Persons – Vermont, and the Vermont Council on Rural Development, where discussions focused on how the conference’s international perspectives could be useful to local groups in rural Vermont. Full details on these groups, the conference, its participants, and papers can be found online.
The next quadrennial conference will be held in Canada in 2023.