Conference managers Karina Moxon, Trishna Kurian and Naomi Potter reflect on the second annual research conference held by the LSE Undergraduate Political Review.
On Thursday 9 November around seventy students attended the 2017 UPR Research Conference in the LSE LIFE Centre. Through the course of the evening attendees heard presentations on four excellent pieces of dissertation research covering a diverse range of topics, all showcased by Department of Government undergraduates.
Joel Pearce kicked off the night with his very topical paper on the role of populist rhetoric in the 2016 US presidential election. Guillaume Paugam then intrigued the audience with his comparison of how international warfare and football share many a commonality. Next, James Sanders provided an insightful analysis on the contrasting arguments used by the Remain and Leave camps during the Brexit campaign. The presentations were brought to a conclusion with Peter Wilson’s thought-provoking paper on the potential for polygamy to be accepted in the modern age.
Our presenters also each had their own discussant, a senior academic from the Department of Government, to provide expert evaluation of the merits and potential improvements that could be made to their research. Professor Schonhardt-Bailey, Dr John Hutchinson, Dr Paul Mitchel, and Dr Kai Spiekermann each provided insightful assessments of the work of our presenters, allowing the many future dissertation students in the audience to see first-hand how to construct a high quality dissertation. The night ended with an informal drinks reception, providing an opportunity for our attendees to interact with our speakers, furthering the lively discussion and leaving many budding political scientists inspired.
Planning the conference
Although the event lasted only two hours, the preparation took much longer – but luckily we were able to build on the success of last year’s conference. Starting in June, the UPR Events team (consisting of Karina Moxon, Trishna Kurian and Naomi Potter, and guided by Editor-in-Chief Hannah Bailey) began planning the conference. We put the word out to undergraduate researchers, and were fortunate that four excellent student researchers agreed to present.
At the start of Michaelmas Term we then contacted LSE academics to be discussants, decided the schedule and found a suitable location. LSE LIFE and the Department of Government were hugely helpful in providing both the venue and catering. The UPR team spent hours handing out flyers and engaging people with the conference, which ultimately culminated in a second successful platform for presenting undergraduate research.
Reflections on a successful evening
After all the hard work and planning, the conference was a huge success. In particular, the comments by academics on each dissertation helped to foster a dialogue between the students, the discussants and the audience. It meant that the audience not only learnt a great deal about the work that went into the dissertations from the students, but also heard a professional, critical reflection on the paper.
The informal Q&A and drinks following the presentations also proved invaluable. Students, academics and audience members all had the chance to discuss the presentations with one another. This meant that people could engage with the presenters, and receive an in-depth response to any questions or thoughts they’d had during the event.
Not only was it an informative evening for those who attended, but it also provided a fantastic opportunity for each student presenter to reflect on their dissertation, its strengths and areas for future improvement. The time limit also challenged the students to reduce their research down to the key points. Finally, the conference served as a way of praising the students for the excellent work they had managed to create.
We look forward to building on yet another successful UPR Conference next year as we anticipate a new batch of brilliant dissertations from our current third year students. See you in November 2018!
The LSE Undergraduate Political Review (LSEUPR) is an online platform that aims to encourage and facilitate an engagement in high level political research and the professional presentation of critical arguments by undergraduate students from universities around the world.