Restricted Scope: Participant Support: 2016 Summer Institute in Economic Geography (SIEG)

Grants and Contracts Details


NSF support is sought for the eighth Summer Institute in Economic Geography (SIEG), scheduled to take place at the University of Kentucky in July 2016. The SIEG was established in 2003, and is now a regular international workshop addressing the research and career development needs of emerging scholars. Following inaugural meetings in Wisconsin (2003) and Bristol (2004), the Institute now meets on a biennial cycle (at the Universities of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006, Manchester 2008, British Columbia 2010, Zurich 2012 and Frankfurt 2014). The summer institutes have become a valued fixture on the economic geography calendar. US participation in the SIEG has always been significant and given a ten-year absence it is appropriate that a US university host the next SIEG. The SIEG is an intensive, week-long residential program, designed to meet five goals: (i) to provide participants with an in-depth understanding of the innovative developments and continuing challenges in the field of economic geography, broadly defined; (ii) to facilitate more effective communication, lateral learning and innovation, and mutual appreciation across what has become a diverse field, in methodological, theoretical, geographical, and substantive terms; (iii) to enable the growth of collaborative and professional networks for early-career researchers, across an international peer group; (iv) to support the internationalization of research and training in economic geography; and (v) to complement and add value to extant programs of graduate training and early-career mentoring. Economic geography has since the 1970s been a particularly restless discipline, in which theoretical orthodoxies and methodological conventions are persistently exposed to critique and re-evaluation. While this turbulence has contributed to the dynamism of the sub-discipline, it also presents particular challenges for junior researchers, who must chart a path into a field characterized by rapid turnover in theories, topics, and approaches. Adding to these challenges is the fact that the codification of methodological practice in economic geography has lagged behind that found in other disciplines, while much remains to be done in further internationalizing research practice and intellectual communication across the field. And junior scholars face a continuing need for professional development experiences, including guidance on publishing, teaching, and research proposal preparation. Responding to these concerns, the SIEG provides a framework for international exchanges and networking, delivered in partnership between an international steering group and host institutions in several countries. It has also been designed to occupy an unfilled niche in organizational terms, meeting the need for a relatively intimate, intensive meeting, in which there is extensive opportunity for deliberation, reflection, and sustained discussion. In contrast to large-scale professional meetings the Summer Institute utilizes a workshop-style format including facilitated discussion groups, debates and panels, training and skills development modules, field trips, and plenary sessions. The philosophy and practice of the SIEG has been incrementally adjusted over the previous meetings, for which evaluations have been overwhelmingly positive. Competition for places at the SIEG has always been intense, with the size of the meeting restricted to a maximum of 35-40 participants in order to meet most effectively the SIEG’s goals as an intensive experience for the most talented and committed early-stage researchers in the field. NSF support would enable and facilitate the development of the next rising generation of economic geographers committed to improving the world through refined, engaged and committed scholarship. Intellectual Merit : The SIEG brings advanced doctoral students, postdoctoral researchers, and recently appointed faculty from around the world to advance scholarship and knowledge creation in the field of economic geography. The SIEG track record shows that it has been a catalyst for generating transformative contributions that have shaped the research agenda of the field. Broader Impacts : Broader Impacts include fostering networks of diverse scholars from around the world who will define future research directions of the sub-discipline and contribute to better understandings of the spatial economy. This will benefit society by offering original and creative perspectives on economic development at all scales that can inform policy.
Effective start/end date3/15/164/30/17


  • National Science Foundation


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