Cumberland Lodge Conference #2

Finally! Some time to recount my remaining time at Cumberland Lodge.

Thursday was ‘the big presentation’. It actually wasn’t that bad! I’m pleased with the way it went and the fantastic feedback I received.

Sadly I wasn’t able to stay longer than Thursday Lunch, but what I managed to experience was fantastic.

There were obviously other people presenting as well as me. And the range of topics was so vast, as I said in my last blog we had Poetry to Psychiatry. It was such a wonderful experience to hear about projects I would otherwise be completely oblivious to.

My group was situated in the Library, which in itself was a wonderful experience, the room is beautiful and you really feel like you’re in a well respected academic setting.

We started with a presentation on human rights and sustainable development, which really gave me insight into two issues – ‘Environmental protection and ‘Human rights protection’. Basically, the concepts can co-exist, so policies in one can affect the other. Who knew?! This researcher could literally change EU policy with her research…food for thought.

We then had a presentation on the social effects and implications of HIV and AIDS in Uganda. A fascinating project on how stigma and the change in how people, especially parents, view HIV in Uganda can affect treatment for children in this part of Africa.

There was a presentation on the potential usefulness of Developed countries’ economic policies are on Developing countries such as Turkey. It was described as the ‘Curate’s Egg’: good in parts, and bad in others.

We then heard about the perception and presence of skin in 17th Century British; never have I heard a presentation so eloquently or beautifully phrased! It made me miss taking English, and keen to get back in touch with my inner humanities student.

My favourite by miles was the study of comic and the senses; it was fascinating to hear how we actually use more than just vision when we read comics, such as the smell and feel of the paper its printed on. The implications are also for how such information can be used to improve the experience of partially sighted or blind comic book readers.

Who knew that both genes and altitude could affect our metabolism? One presentation showed that previous work on Tibetan Sherpas and current research on…the researchers themselves(!) showed that increased altitude helped reduce metabolic syndrome, as well as a protective genetic factor. There also might be an effect of increased nitrates in our diet…further developments to follow!

We also heard about the legal implications of IVF treatment on parenthood, including rights of both biological and social parents. I never knew it could be so technical.

Research close to my heart was the ethical implications of personal health monitoring. On the plus side, it can give elderly or disabled patients more independence in the home, and less need for direct medical care. On the downside there are many ethical data implications; who uses the data and how?

I sadly missed the afternoon presentations, but I’m sure they were all equally engaging and interesting!

I found my experience at Cumberland Lodge invaluable and thoroughly enjoyable. More people should encourage interdisciplinary conferences!! Thanks to all the organisers and attendees that made the experience unforgettable.


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