MeCCSA 2020 Conference

MeCCSA Title image

After many months of hard work and preparations, the days had finally come: it was time for the 2020 annual MeCCSA (Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association) conference, this year taking place at the City Campus at the University of Brighton.

The delegates from all around the world arrived from 10 am on Wednesday 8th January, ready and excited for 3 days discussing and learning about this year’s theme, Media Interactions and Environments. MeCCSA 2020 was the most sustainable MeCCSA conference to date and was largely paper-free with minimal use of single-use products. After having registered with the welcoming Southcoast Event Staff and receiving their reusable coffee cup and MeCCSA branded water bottle to fill up at the refreshment stalls, the delegates could check the programme for the upcoming days online by scanning a QR code on the back of their name badge.

Over the days, multiple keynotes, panel sessions, and roundtable discussions touched upon countless media-related subjects. Every day the delegates were able to choose from a broad array of topics discussed in different panels, including Game of Thrones, podcasts, gender, politics, AI, culture, Japanese film, and TV, just to mention a few. The programme also included network meetings, beautiful and interesting art exhibitions, stalls hosted by 8 different academic publishers, the MeCCSA AGM and plenty of opportunities to meet new people in the coffee and lunch breaks. At all times Southcoast Event Staff was on hand to help delegates find their way to their next session or answer any queries that might pop up throughout the conference.

On Thursday The Real Junk Food Project Brighton served delicious lunch consisting of salads, tandoori chicken, couscous and pastries for the delegates, assisted by Southcoast Event Staff. The Real Junk Food Project cooks with food that would otherwise have been thrown away to reduce food waste. Since its founding 5 years ago The Real Junk Food Project has saved 5000 tonnes of food – equivalent to 11.9 million meals.

The programme also offered a fun social programme in the evenings, allowing the delegates to network and experience vibrant and exciting Brighton. Led by the Southcoast Event Staff holding signs to show the way, the delegates started their first evening in Brighton with a beautiful drinks reception in the picturesque Brighton Museum & Gallery. Ewan Kirkland, the organiser from the University of Brighton, welcomed everyone to Brighton and gave a toast to MeCSSA before the delegates moved on in the evening programme to a cosy local pub, the Walrus. At the Walrus, the delegates participated in an entertaining pub quiz, touching upon several different themes like the 2010s, academic questions and a fun picture round, all curated by Ewan Kirkland.

The following evening was the night of the gala dinner, taking place at the iconic Brighton Palace Pier – the delegates got to dine 500 metres out on sea! Walking down the Pier towards the Palm Court Restaurant, the delegates were greeted by beautiful light dancers wishing them a lovely evening, before the guests proceeded inside for a welcome drink and a chat before the dinner. The delicious 3-course meal consisted of a soup, fish and chips and an Eaton Mess cheesecake to top it all off, all accompanied by wine. The light dancers performed their beautiful tricks as the entertainment of the night, clearly impressing everyone with their skills and with that a successful gala dinner finished with the delegates ready for the final day of the conference, MeCCSA 2020 coming to an end on Friday 10th January.

Both the University of Brighton and Southcoast Conferences are proud and honoured to have hosted this year’s successful conference and wish the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen best of luck with next year’s conference.


MeCCSA 2020 Facts: 

  • 317 delegates from 138 universities across 28 countries
  • 273 presentations in 76 panels
  • 8 academic publishers: Palgrave Macmillan, Polity Press, Emerald Publishing, MIT Press, Rowman & Littlefield, University of Westminster Press, Combined Academic Publishers, Edinburgh University Press.
  • 4 keynote speakers: academic and industry leaders Dr Deborah Gabriel, Professor Jussi Parikka, Professor Sarah Kember, Professor Trine Syvertsen.
  • The mosts sustainable MeCCSA conference ever



From Lectures to Live Events

Lectures to Live Events James

New Doctor James Gatheral has had a busy couple of months: he turned 30, got engaged, finished his PhD at University of Brighton, and is now trying to fulfil his dream of becoming a lecturer. But while he is searching far and wide for job opportunities, he, much by coincidence, has also turned into quite the conference planner, helping Southcoast Conferences to make some of the biggest conferences yet hosted at the University of Brighton into massive successes.

While planning the RSVP Conference alongside his supervisor, Dr Peter Blake, James ran into Laura Williams, the Events Services Manager at Southcoast Conferences:

“I was working from an academic perspective on a conference that was going to be held at the University of Brighton. I came in to sit in a meeting with Laura and a couple of academics. […] We all worked well together, we got on really well […], and after a couple of meetings I asked Laura if she might be able to help me with some part-time work to support me while I was in the precarious position of finishing my PhD some months after my funding had finished. I wanted to get involved, and Laura had lots of upcoming events, so it seemed to work perfectly. We came together at the right time.”

The event which brought James into the world of conference planning, the annual conference of the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals, happens to be one of the biggest in James’s field of research, so contributing to the organisation of such an event was a big opportunity for him as an early career researcher.

“It is a big international conference, with scholars coming to the conference from the United States, Canada, Australia, Asia, and continental Europe. I had been to their most recent conferences, one hosted in Kansas City, one in Freiburg in Germany, another in Canada, but it hadn’t come to the UK for a couple of years. Peter and I were at the conference dinner after a very successful event in Freiburg, and after a few glasses of wine we suggested very confidently that Brighton would be the perfect host for a future conference,” James explains, laughing. “It snowballed from there. The Society chose to give us the conference for 2019, and it was both a great opportunity and a great responsibility because it is an important event and we were quite nervous about hosting it. But Laura was amazing, and every time there was any problem she would make everyone feel at ease. The event was a great success, and we got some excellent feedback.”

Following the conclusion of his many years of studying, James has now taken on a bigger role within Southcoast Conferences while looking for Lecturer positions. This includes helping to manage the preparation stages of one of the biggest conferences hosted at the University.

“Laura’s been working on a big conference called MeCSSA that’s actually more than twice as big as the one I was talking about earlier. There were over 300 abstracts submitted to present papers, and there will be a huge number of delegates from all around the world in attendance this January. Laura needed a bit more support for this conference because the conference mailbox had about 50 emails coming in every day with various questions and issues. The team also needed some urgent support in terms of processing all the abstracts and sending them out for peer review. Most of the tasks needed to be done immediately (preferably yesterday!) and it was all rather hectic. Laura asked me to take on more responsibility, so now I am helping her daily, checking the mailbox, responding to queries, organising the schedule, and engaging with publishers to exhibit at the conference.”

James has no doubt his current work will help him in his future career: “[It’s] brilliant for me because on my CV, to have things like conference organisation is amazing. Not many people would have that kind of experience just after their PhD, it’s something you normally get later on. Also, things like crisis management – you know when they say in interviews: ‘has anything ever gone wrong and how did you fix it?’ This experience has given me so many examples to draw on for that question! But it has been really enjoyable and rewarding. I’m very happy to continue here - the ultimate eternal student, I’ll just never leave! But yeah, it’s been a really great experience.”

Knowledge Transfer Partnership Conference 2018

Knowledge Transfer Partnership Conference 2018  British Airways i360 5

Today the Southcoast team had the pleasure of hosting the Knowledge Transfer Partnership Conference, 2018 in the iconic venue; The i360. At 8:30 a.m. the guests started to arrive, some feeling better than others as the Gala Night in The Old Market had been a great ‘success’. After being registered and assisted in the cloakroom by the Southcoast team, the guests were all met with fresh hot drinks and warm pastries.

After the guests finished their drinks and pain-au-chocolat they made their way into the Attenborough Room for the welcome talk by Dr Shona Campbell from Brighton University, who opened with asking how everyone was feeling after the night before, and it definitely sounded like it was a good night. The welcome was then followed by the KTP Programme Manager who spoke to his audience on the Operational Updates coming to Innovate UK.  Marc Fleetham then took the stage to tell his audience about updates coming to the National Forum. To help answer any burning questions a Q&A Panel was assembled. The Southcoast team assisted by taking microphones to the audience members asking the questions.

After all questions were answered everyone made their way back into the main room for more refreshments, the pastries at this point had been replaced by a selection of delicious cakes, ranging  from lemon drizzle to brownies. Instead of having an all delegate lecture, delegates were given the choice of workshops to attend. The Southcoast staff did a great job of directing everyone to the right rooms, which minimised potential confusion and kept the schedule punctual. In the Attenborough Room there was a great workshop on the “Best Practice in Lead Generation and Business Development” by Rob Walker and Rachel Corcoran. The Austen Room hosted an informative lesson on “Proposal Writing- Stepping into an Assessor’s shoes” by Jan Stringer and Philippa Ryan and last but not least in the Volk Room there was an interesting workshop on “REF and KTPs: Delivering impact for REF 2021” by Ingrid Pugh and Fran Seballos.

The workshops were followed by the guest speaker Dr John Roberts, who is the Chief Engineer of the i360 and has worked on many other attractions such as the London Eye. He introduced us all to the reasons for building the i360. He told us “the amount of people that have been on the London Eye is greater than the population of England” and wanted to mirror this in Brighton. He went on to describe how the i360 was built and the challenges he and the rest of the engineers had faced in building the structure, such as having to attach “sloshing liquid dampers, from Sydney” to the infrastructure to stop it swaying in the wind. One of the most remarkable aspects brought to light by Dr Roberts speech was where and how he got hold of all the resources for the build. The “Jacks” were made in Switzerland, the glass in Italy, the pod was put together in France and finally, the metal works were located in Rotterdam - it truly was an international effort. However, the foundations were dug by a British company. To end the talk, Dr Roberts explained how the tower was built without a crane as this method would not work, the tower being taller than a crane. He explained how they used a jacking tower method instead, taking only ten weeks to build the tower once all the resources had reached Brighton from their many different locations worldwide.

After hearing all about how the i360 was designed and built the guests had a once in a lifetime experience of travelling up the attraction with the Chief Engineer himself. As the i360 is sponsored by British Airways, all the delegates had to pass through mock airport security. The trip up the tower is also referred to as a “Flight” to reflect its BA heritage. After everyone successfully cleared security, the guests made their way into the pod. As they entered, they were greeted with the amazing view of the Old West Pier as the sun beams shone through the clouds. The pod itself has a mirrored bottom allowing others to benefit seeing a reflection of themselves and a great aerial view of Brighton beach.

The interior of the pod is very sleek giving, you guessed it, a 360 degree view through the walls that are made of reinforced glass. The pod also includes a bar with staff and an air hostess. As the pod ascended the tower, the ground became more and more distant, and the streets below became smaller and smaller. Once above the height of all surrounding buildings, the guests were able to see the unique street art on the surrounding roofs. From the top of the tower you can see from the South Downs to the offshore windfarm, the view truly is impressive. The flight lasted around half an hour stopping at the top of the tower for ten minutes with the sun shining through the whole time. It was a great experience for all involved.

Once the “Flight” made its way back to ground level, all the guests were directed back to the Attenborough room by the Southcoast staff, and the conference was brought to a close with some awards that Dr Shona Campbell presented. She also passed the baton to the Aberdeen team who will be hosting 2019’s conference, the baton being a bottle of whiskey where upon the Scottish team gave the crowd a taste of their culture with a Scottish song. The conference was brought to an official close, and the guests were sent on their way with a tasty lunch or they could take away a packed lunch. Both Brighton University and Southcoast found it a pleasure and an honour to host Knowledge Transfer Partnership Conference this year and hope that next year will be just as good.

International Orientation Tea Party

International Orientation Tea Party

The new students arrived in groups, having just finished their Selfie Treasure Hunt, a game whereby, in teams you are given a variety of different sights and landmarks in a certain area and then must find them, taking a photo in front of it for proof. As this had lasted a few hours most were relieved and thankful to be seated in the beautifully decorated venue after their expedition around Brighton. Once seated the students were able to socialise and discuss with each other and with the University staff who had been seated on tables around the room to answer any burning questions or set aside any anxieties.

Once the last few groups were seated the Student Services Manager for Brighton University; Ian Carter gave a warm and friendly greeting to Brighton and the university. Followed by a second welcoming from Gareth Topp who is the Head of Internationalisation, he promised to keep his speech short as he knew it was being followed by cake and he delivered on this.

Five minutes later, the students received an array of refreshments ranging from cakes to scones, with a variety of different local jams. Tea and coffee were also served while the International students continued getting to know each other and the staff. In the background, while the afternoon tea was being served, the photos from the day's Selfie Treasure Hunt were displayed. Later they were to be judged, but it also made for good conversation.

As the students began to finish their food, many took the opportunity to use the Instagram photo frame and props to get some fun pictures. The beach chairs were a particular hit as they have become somewhat a symbol of Brighton. The Ambassadors (in the Blue Tshirts) did an amazing job of energising and including all the International Students.

When it was clear that not one more Jam Scone could be eaten, the prize giving began. Candice Armah & Hayley Wood from the Orientation team chose the best picture and the group that had found the most places. They called out the groups that had won, which was followed by loud applaud (especially by those that had won) who then went forward to have their photos taken.

The Tea party concluded with the international students and ambassadors posing for a group photo. After, the students left, filled with scones, cakes and tea to prepare for a party being held at the YHA that evening for them.

We would like to wish them the best of luck and time, as they start the next chapter of their lives in Brighton and want to thank them for choosing to come to the University of Brighton.