Evaluating the impact of interdisciplinary networking in environmental geochemistry and health: reviewing SEGH conferences and workshops
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The Society for Environmental Geochemistry and Health (SEGH) is a forum for multidisciplinary interaction relating the geochemical environment to health. With national funding, SEGH identified collaborative opportunities through the MULTITUDE series of workshops (2007–2011). We reviewed the meetings by electronic questionnaire (39 % response). Smaller meetings saw most returning delegates, suggesting networking and personal interaction is a key positive feature of SEGH; 31 % of practitioners and 25 % of academics participated in more than one meeting. Collaboration between SEGH participants resulted in joint funding (13 academics, 4 practitioners, 1 other) and joint papers (19, 5, 3). Evidence of behavioural change was seen in comments in five themes regarding the impacts of the conferences: support for current direction; impact on education practice (academics); new approaches; networking; multidisciplinary work. Multidisciplinary meetings and resulting networking were seen as having real value by many respondents, who encouraged further active pursuit of these activities. SEGH is eager to continue these activities which transform research, education and practice, resulting in a better understanding of the structure and processes comprising the broad geochemical environment on health. Comments showed the value and strength of small, well-organised conferences, bringing together a mixed group of disciplines, both research and applied, in a relaxed atmosphere. The absence of serious negative critique along with clear, positive comments suggests that there is a substantial level of support for, and even pleasure in, SEGH multidisciplinary conferences and workshops over the past years. It is encouraging that annual European conferences are viewed as such a positive achievement.
KeywordsInterdisciplinary network Conference evaluation Environment and human health Workshops Collaboration Participation
Dr Alex Keenan, SEGH board, Professor Mike Ramsey—Principle Investigator on the MULTITUDE project (NE/E009484/1), NERC-led consortium (The Joint Environment & Human Health Programme, supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC); Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra); Environment Agency (EA); Ministry of Defence (MOD); Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC); Medical Research Council (MRC); Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC); Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC); Health Protection Agency (HPA)) for funding of the initial MULTITUDE workshop. Participants in this study included A. Worsley, Abdulmagid Elazhari Ali, Alecos Demetriades, Alex G. Stewart, Alexandros Liakopoulos, Alireza Pourkhabbaz, Amélia Paula Reis, Andrew Hursthouse, Andy Cundy, Aradhana Mehra, Ariadne Argyraki, Athanasios Godelitsas, Carla Patinha, Carmen Cristina Elekes, Cathy Scheib, Chaosheng Zhang, Chris Crosby, Christian Gagnon, Chunye Lin, Claudia Stihi, David Elliott, Deming Dong, Eamonn Grennan, Elena Panova, Elisa Giubilato, Enrico Dinelli, Francesca Castorina, Georgios Papastergios, Gerben Mol, Gillian Gibson, Graham Urquhart, Gunnar Jacks, Gus MacKenzie, Iordache Virgil, J. P. Yadav, Jirri Hrebicek, Joanna Wragg, John G. Farmer, John Reid, John Watt, Joost Lahr, Joy Carter, Keith Torrance, Kenneth Byrne, L. D. Premawardhana, Liam Morrison, Ligang Dao, Mamoona Tahir, Marco Martuzzi, Marco Vinceti, Marge Uppin, Maria Lathouri, Marija Romic, Marina Mlakar, Mariola Jablonska, Mark Button, Md Anawar Hossain, Metin Altan, Michael H. Ramsey, Michael Watts, Mike Studden, Mohammad Nahid Siddiqui, Muhammad Usman, Mumtaz Hussain, Musarrat Afza, Neil Breward, Nessa Golden, Nick Walton, Olle Selinus, P. Nicolopoulou Stamati, Paolo Luria, Paolo Valera, Parvinder Sethi, Pat Rasmussen, Paul Römkens, Peter Rostron, Peter Smyth, Philipp Preiss, Qiang Ren, Rachel Allibone, Rajesh Dhankhar, Richard Jarvis, Roland Pesch, Ron Watkins, Roslyn McIntosh, Rupert Adams, Samira Korfali, Sara Di Lonardo, Sergio Calabrese, Suvi Harris, Suzette Morman, Tarun Kumar De, Thomas J Shepherd, Valérie Cappuyns, Victor Cardenes, Xu Yuhui, Yong Wang, Zou Guoyuan.
Conflict of interest
Andrew Hursthouse, Annie Worsley and Alex Stewart are SEGH board members.
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