On Friday 7th November the annual CCRI Winter School took place at the University of Gloucestershire’s Park Campus. The Winter School provides a friendly and supportive environment for postgraduate students working in rural research to present their work and receive constructive feedback from CCRI staff. It is also an opportunity for postgraduate students from all over UK to meet up and exchange ideas. This year there was a great range of presentations which were of an extremely high standard and which provoked much discussion.

Melissa Affleck from CCRI was one of those who presented, and here are her thoughts on the day’s events…

This year’s Winter School was my second, and as well as presenting I was helping my colleagues to organise the event. From both perspectives the Winter School went extremely well. We had a great range of presentations – from landscape scale conservation, flooding, and mixed methods GIS to community engagement and resilience. We also had presenters from the Business School and from Jonnie, our placement student, on research for his Undergraduate thesis. This year saw the Winter School go high tech with a film of the event and remote participation through Skype – this is definitely something we want to develop further next year.

From my perspective as a postgraduate participating in the Winter School the day was extremely useful. I gave a presentation on my PhD research so far, which applies the ecosystem services concept to explore the plural values of sustainable drainage systems, as an example of natural flood management. My research has developed greatly since I last presented at the 2013 Winter School. It was excellent opportunity to share the changes and get detailed feedback on my methods, and generally consider things from different perspectives. I would recommend taking part in the Winter School – it provides a friendly and informal atmosphere where you can test out ideas and get feedback from experienced researchers. I think this is a real selling point, especially for postgraduates early in the research process as you can gain experience without the pressure, as some more formal events may generate!

It was also an opportunity for Nick Lewis, Research Assistant in CCRI, to practice filming the events as CCRI intend to increase the extent to which they use film to disseminate information and promote their activities. Nick comments on how the day went for him…

 

Getting to grips with how to create a movie is reasonably simple and akin to baking a cake! You need lots of ingredients in the form of different pieces of film, which you then edit and stitch together to create the final cake/film. The software I was intending to use is fairly simple, and you need a logical systematic approach in order to use it – which appeals to my way of thinking. The most difficult part however, is getting quality footage – whether that is related to lighting, or there being something in the way (the back of heads all too often!), or poor quality sound. Being very assertive in what you are doing is important (not my strong point) and directing or simply moving people was frequently required. People were also hesitant at speaking to camera, and concerned they wouldn’t have enough to say – on the contrary – some talked perhaps a little too much, which makes for tricky editing. The final film, which is a little longer than I had hoped, can now be viewed on YouTube. I am pleased with how it has turned out – considering it is a first effort – but certainly room for improvement!

CCRI Winter School 2014 – YouTube

Presentations from CCRI Winter School 2014

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