Cornish Geothermal: Talking about United Downs research at ICEP

This year the University of Plymouth hosted the International Conference of Environmental Psychology (ICEP) from the 4th to the 6th of September 2019. Dr Sabine Pahl and Dr Mat White organised the ICEP Conference, hosting more than 350 scholars interested in the relationship between people and the environment. This connection was the core theme of the Conference which focused on ‘Protecting People and Planet Through Social and Behavioural Science’. The Sustainable Earth Institute has proudly sponsored the Conference and it was a great opportunity for sharing and promoting our research projects. The conference addressed several issues in the field of sustainable behaviours related to transport-modes and food choices, plastic pollution, energy consumption and acceptability of energy projects, just to name a few. All conference sessions took place in the Roland Levinsky Building situated in the main campus of the University of Plymouth.

Dr Hazel Gibson and PhD student Francesca Tirotto presented their research work within the symposium “Dealing with the underground: Public acceptance, communication and community engagement in the context of subsurface technologies” convened by Christine Boomsma (Leiden University, Netherlands). Respectively with a “geocognition” and a “social identity” approach, Hazel and Francesca gave talks about their preliminary results on what people in Cornwall think about the geothermal energy technology at United Downs. Several researchers expressed interest in their presentations and work, receiving important feedback, suggestions and expressing interest for future collaborations. We can definitely say that the experience at the ICEP Conference was a success for both of them!

The social program of the conference included a nice “Welcome Reception” where delegates met for a first refreshment on the evening before the conference programme started.  The day after, guests were invited to the National Marine Aquarium, an amazing environment for networking. Finally, during the last day guests were invited to the Conference dinner that took place at the Crowne Plaza hotel. The three-course menu was exceptional but the best part was the after dinner with guests dancing with traditional Scottish and Irish folk music (Ceilidh social party).

It’s important to mention a crucial aspect of any academic conference: the food! Respecting the environment was an important factor and was taken into account in many aspects of the planning – not least in the catering choices. Most of the food was plant-based and locally sourced, in order to limit the environmental impact of the conference. Everything was extremely good! Other things that were influenced by the aim to reduce the conference’s environmental impact were the  badges and notebooks, produced from recycled materials and fully recyclable. This is not very normal for a big conference, so the effort to be “as sustainable as possible” as the organising committee stated, was really appreciated by everybody attending the conference.


Next year the ICEP Conference will be held in Siracusa, Sicily, Italy. Researchers from the Sustainable Earth Institute are looking forward to presenting their work again in such a professional and supportive conference environment!

For more information about the conference:

H. Gibson and F. Tirotto Conference abstracts (p. 177)

ICEP Conference website

Twitter conference post and #icep2019

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