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Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Section 2011

It has been another vibrant year for the Section. To begin with we now have a Facebook and Twitter presence thanks to the good offices of Natalie Gough and Mike Beaton, two Committee Members with a great deal of technical and social-networking nous. So, can I urge everyone reading this who has a Facebook account to ‘Like’ us and follow us on Twitter?   

The Section was very proud to act as co-sponsor for a one day symposium on ‘The Embodiment of Life: The Legacy of Francisco Varela’. It was held on 1 June at the City University, London, and was was organised by Valerie Bonnardel, Guy Claxton, and Bill Lucas as a memorial for Varela’s ground-breaking work in the embodiment of the mind and neuro-phenomenology, and to mark the tenth year of his premature death. It was a great success with a range of marvellous speakers including John Protevi, Paul Bourgine, Antonino Raffone, Michel Bitbol and Stephen Batchelor. 

In July Greg Elder, our PsyPAG Representative, ran a symposium under the auspices of the CEP Section at the annual PsyPAG conference at Bangor University. Three young researchers were selected to participate, Po Ling Chen (Bangor), Tedis Tafili (Strathclyde), and Andrew Pringle (Surrey), and Greg pronounced the whole event a great success. Indeed it must have been because the PsyPAG 2012 conference will now be held at Northumbria University where Greg is in the second year of his doctoral studies in the Northumbria Centre for Sleep Research.

In September we had our annual conference, this year on Crisis and Consciousness. Once again we had an impressive line-up of keynote speakers: Sir Crispin Tickell, ‘Thinking differently: Out of the box and into the future?’,  Susan George, ‘Towards a greener, fairer, richer, more democratic world’, and Nic Marks, ‘Think before you think: measuring our progress in a complex world’, but things didn’t all run to plan. Susan George had an accident on the first evening of the conference and spent the rest of her visit to St Anne’s, Oxford in the Radcliffe Infirmary! We are assured that she is has returned to full health, but it was a shock for her and a great disappointment for everyone who had come to hear her speak.

On a more positive note, Sir Crispin and Nic gave very stimulating presentations and, although participant numbers were unusually low which made for an intimate meeting, the other conference presentations were from a range of fields and perspectives and discussion was lively.   Our newly elected Honorary Treasurer, Emma Crofton, should be singled out as having done an excellent job in the run up to, throughout, and after this conference. 

Next year’s conference will be on Neurophenomenology and will be at the University of Bristol from 15-16 September 2012. We are still in the planning stage but Michel Bitbol has confirmed that he will be a keynote speaker at the event. If you are interested in attending contact me at the address below. 

On 1 December Natalie Gough and Cassandra Gould (a Sussex PhD student and co-opted Committee Member) represented CEP at a Psychology4Students meeting in Watford. The purpose of the event was to engage with future psychology undergraduates and showcase the BPS Member Network, and this it certainly did. Natalie reported the CEP stall to be extremely busy, with the teachers enjoying the experiments and discussion every bit as much as the students!

In November Mike Beaton stood down as Honorary Secretary, and whilst he will be missed in this role, he has been very ably superseded by Bryony Pierce. Natalie Gough has volunteered to take over Mike’s supplementary role as Web Officer, and her offer has been gratefully accepted. 

Finally, the Section is very proud to be able to say that Max Velmans, one of the founding members of CEP, has become an elected Fellow of the Association of the Social Sciences. Well done Max!

Dr Susan A.J. Stuart, Chair

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