It is pleasing to look back on this 50th year of the Association and reflect on the number of “firsts”, “bests” and “highests” that I can count. We have had a very high performing year to celebrate our anniversary and I would like to begin by thanking all those who have contributed to it – the RSA Board, the many members of our Committees, all those who have competed for and won grants or awards, and especially those individuals and groups who are contributing to the growth of our community through their work on research networks. I especially want to thank our marvellous staff team who have out done themselves this year.
Membership is at an all-time high in absolute terms and is also the most international and the most spread across our membership categories. Professor Brian Robson, University of Manchester and the winner of our Sir Peter Hall Contribution to the Field award observed that the members demonstrate a real buzz about the Association – they are proud to be part of what is going on.
Conference activity has also raised the bar. In 2015 we held our first conference in Australasia and our second in mainland China, in the beautiful city of Hangzhou. The Annual Conference was large and held in Piacenza, Italy with busy Winter, Early Career and Policy events too. Over 2,500 people attended RSA events in 2015 – a record.
The RSA continued to internationalise during the year with membership in China exceeding its target and a new Division being opened in June in Latin America led by Marco Crocco, the President of the Minais Gerais Development Bank. Expansion in Eastern Europe is proceeding at pace, and a conference is planned there for the near future.
Our new start journal (2016) came to life in 2015. Led by Coordinating Editors, Professor Weidong Liu and Mick Dunford of the Chinese Academy of Science, this international effort has now commissioned articles and is ending the year with a growing number of unsolicited papers being submitted. This is a great start to a journal which will allow authors to write in their own research traditions where refereeing will largely be local. The Association values hearing new voices and acknowledges their important contribution to the field. We also value the vital role they play in helping us find answers to the wicked societal problems that we face.
This year the Regional Studies 2 year impact factor rose majestically, Spatial Economic Analysis appointed a new Editor in Chief – it’s hello to Paul Elhorst, Groningen and good bye and massive thank you to founding editor Bernie Fingleton for 10 years hard work. Territory, Politics, Governance enters the Web of Science Expanded Index after only 3 years and Regional Studies, Regional Science continues to publish gold open access articles from around the world with a mightily impressive 77,000 downloads in under 2 years.
On policy there has been a substantial leap forward. We have established a Policy Committee led by Paul Hildreth and we are looking to develop a series of fully-funded Policy Expos in early 2016. These Expos will include a number of elements, including a short form policy book which will be distributed to all members as well as the subscribers to our journals. We anticipate a massive footprint supported by a policy launch orchestrated by the Association andoffering the chance to prompt real change.
Finally it is pleasing to announce that we have appointed a new President with Professor Ron Martin, Cambridge University taking the helm, supported by six Vice-Presidents – Dadao Lu, China; Ann Markusen, USA; Dirk Ahner, Belgium; Allen Scott, France; Flavia Martinelli, Italy and Clelio Campolina, Brazil. They will be helping us to build our strategy and our global presence going forward.
Ideas for development next year include a Network of Centres and further international expansion – see our Development Plan (also published during the year) for more details about what is emerging within your Association.
I look forward to talking with you at Graz, Austria in April or in Georgia, Atlanta in June or even one of our many other events in 2016. Finally may I extend season’s greetings to you and wish you a happy and successful new year.