GE1101E/GEK1001 updated

The module information (topics, schedule, assignments etc.) for GE1101E/GEK1001 Geographical Journeys: Exploring World Environments, Semester 2, AY2014/2015 has been updated here. As with previous years, the module will be taught by myself and Professor Alan Ziegler. More detailed information and updates will be posted on IVLE. Please check for any changes to class schedule closer to the CORS bidding period. You can also email me or Prof Ziegler for any specific queries about the module.

GE3201 The Service Economy module updated

The module information (topics, schedule, assignments etc.) for GE3201 The Service Economy, Semester 2, AY2014/2015 has been updated here. For next semester, the module will be taught by myself and Professor Neil Coe. More detailed information and updates will be posted on IVLE. Please check for any changes to class schedule closer to the CORS bidding period. You can also email me or Prof Coe for any specific queries about the module.

Talk at Beijing Normal University, 17 November 2014

I will be giving a talk at the School of Geography, Beijing Normal University (北京师范大学,地理学与遥感科学学院) on Monday 17 November 2014. Details are listed below.

Financialisation, financial citizenship and the state:
The case of banking reforms in Singapore

Dr Karen Lai (National University of Singapore)

Monday 17 November 2014, 10.00am to 12.00pm
School of Geography, Room 180 (北师大地遥学院180)
Sheng-Di Building, Beijing Normal University,
19 Xin Jie Kou Wai Street, Haidian District,
Beijing, China, 100875

For enquiries, please contact Dr PAN Fenghua (潘峰华) at

BNU Lecture poster - 17Nov2014

S$4.95 million for new Global Production Networks Centre at NUS

Colleagues and I at NUS have been awarded S$4.95 million to start a Global Production Networks Centre at NUS (GPN@NUS). This is funded by the NUS Office of Deputy President (Research & Technology) Strategic Research Proposals 2014.

GPN@NUS will be co-directed by Henry Yeung and Neil Coe (from Geography). Team members consists of Karen Lai and Godfrey Yeung (from Geography), Davin Chor, Albert Hu and Jang-Sup Shin (from Economics), Soo Yeon Kim (from Political Science), and Kurtulus Gemici (from Sociology).

The Centre will formally start its activities on 1st October 2014, with an official launch event to follow in January 2015.

This is very exciting news indeed on many fronts. Personally, I would like to expand on arguments made in my Regional Studies (2014) paper titled ‘Integrating Finance into Global Production Networks’ (co-written with Neil Coe and Dariuz Wojcik) to systematically extend and deepen the concept of global financial networks (GFN) in analysing the roles and impacts of finance and advanced business services on knowledge formation and capital flows. These are crucial to GPN and regional development but underdeveloped in the framework so far.

We are still in the very early planning stage. More news to follow as we get closer to the formal start date of the research centre, and hopefully an official website soon.

Research Impact Workshop at RGS-IBG

Generating Research Impact: Ethics, Politics and Practices

Date: Tuesday 26th August 2014
Venue: Education Centre, Royal Geographical Society (RGS), 1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AR
Organised by RGS Research Groups: EGRG, DARG, SCGRG and PolGRG

This workshop will take place on the day before the annual international conference of the RGS (with IBG). It brings together academics, including postgraduates, from across human geography to facilitate a critical focus and debate on the nature and implications of research impact, from research group perspectives across the discipline, including thinking more broadly and critically about what research impact means to us, and how it affects our work. The event includes group and roundtable debate, facilitated by five keynote talks.


10:00-10:30 Registration & coffee

10:30-10:45 Welcome from Alex Hughes & introductions

10:45-12:00 Session 1: Tracking & Embedding Impact (Chair: Steve Musson)
Dr Martin Walsh (Global Research Adviser, Oxfam GB, & Member of REF Main Panel C): Researching impacts: emerging lessons from the development sector
Group discussion: How do we embed & track impact? How might we work with organisations to do this, and what are the challenges?

12:00-13:00 Lunch

13:00-14:30 Session 2: Politics, Consequences & Communication of Impact (Chair: Rebecca Sandover)
Professor Kevin Morgan (Cardiff School of Planning & Geography): The politics of sustainable school food reform (project recognised in ESRC Impact Annual Awards 2013)
Hazel Edwards (Senior Engagement Manager – Arts & Humanities, Durham University): Research impact through partnership: the case of a Tyne & Wear Archives & Museum project
Group discussion: How do we conduct research that shapes public policy/engagement? How do we address the political challenges associated with the generation & consequences of research impact? How do we communicate research impact?

14:30-15:00 Tea/coffee

15:00-16:30 Session 3: Conceptualising Impact & its Pathways (Chair: Karen Lai)
Eloise Mellor (ESRC): Overview of ESRC’s current visions of impact
Professor Nina Laurie (Newcastle University): Conceptualising impact in the global South: the case of a trafficking project
Group discussion: How do we conceptualise and create pathways to impact? What kinds of skills are required to foster impact?

16:30 Workshop closes

18:15 Annual conference opens

The event is free to students (current, registered graduate or doctoral studies), and £16 for all others. To register for the event, you can book in one of two ways: (i) through the RGS website and online booking system (to add the workshop to your RGS annual conference booking) at or, if you are not attending the annual conference, (ii) by e-mailing and sending a cheque (if you are paying) for £16 made payable to ‘EGRG’ to Alex Hughes, School of Geography, Politics & Sociology, 5th Floor Claremont Tower, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU by 6th August 2014.

EGSG Student Awards Competition 2014

Student Award Competitions

The AAG Economic Geography Specialty Group (EGSG) makes three annual awards in economic geography, with the results announced each year at the AAG Annual Meeting (which is in Tampa, Florida, 8-12 April 2014, this year).

Graduate Student Research Award (deadline: 15 March 2014)
These competitive awards ($750 each) are designed to support innovative and original graduate student research that is likely to make a significant contribution to the development of the field of economic geography. Proposals will be judged on the basis of the theoretical and substantive significance of the research, and the appropriateness of the methods employed. Funds can be used towards travel, subsistence, equipment and/or other normal research expenses. Applications should include (a) a one-page vita, with full contact details, (b) a two-page statement, detailing the nature of the proposed research and its expected contribution, and (c) a one page provisional budget, detailing the uses to which award funds would be put. Awardees must be registered graduate students throughout the duration of the award.

Please note that two EGSG Board members will review the applications and make a recommendation to the EGSG Board. Please send your submission, in PDF format, to Robin Leichenko at <>. Robin is happy to answer any questions you might have about the process.

Best Dissertation (deadline: 15 March 2014)
Students completing a PhD dissertation in the preceding calendar year (i.e. 2013), are eligible for the best dissertation competition. An award of $500 is offered for the best dissertation.

Please note that two EGSG Board members will review the applications and make a recommendation to the EGSG Board. Please send your submission, in PDF format, to Kris Olds at <>. Kris is happy to answer any questions you might have about the process.

Best Student Paper (deadline: 29 March 2014)
Students presenting a paper at the AAG annual conference (or who presented a paper any time in the 12 months preceding the 2014 conference) are eligible for the best student paper competition. An award of $200 is offered for the best student paper. Papers should be in English, and no longer than 15 pages double-spaced in 12-point font (including explanatory footnotes/endnotes, but excluding references, figures and tables) with an additional 100-200 word abstract. And yes, you can submit your planned paper for the 2014 Annual Meeting in Tampa, but it obviously has to be written ahead of time!

Two EGSG Board members will review the submitted papers and make a recommendation to the EGSG Board. Please send your submission, in PDF format, to to Marion Werner at <>. Marion is happy to answer any questions you might have about the process.

Launch of new EGRG website

We are very pleased to announce the launch of the new Economic Geography Research Group (RGS-IBG) website at:

Lots of updated features, plus an expansive archive of EGRG activities over the years. This site replaces the previous site (built and maintained for over 10 years by Graham Bowden at the University of Manchester), as part of the Royal Geographical Society’s effort to bring all of the research group websites in-house.

Call For Papers: International Financial Centres and Regional Development (RGS-IBG 2014)

Call for Papers: RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2014, London, 26 to 29 August 2014
International Financial Centres and Regional Development
Convenors: Sabine Dörry (University of Oxford) and Karen Lai (National University of Singapore)
Financial activities form a global economic network that is distinctive in terms of its operation and impact, particularly in terms of specific actors (associated with various banking and financial institutions as well as advanced business services) and territories (such as international financial centres and offshore jurisdictions). As specialised clusters of capital, knowledge and labour, international financial centres (IFCs) play crucial roles in the modern system of global finance and are also seen as strategic sectors in shaping local and regional growth trajectories. Over time, there has been increased competition amongst IFCs and offshoring of business activities amongst financial institutions and finance-related advanced business services (ABS) firms. Competition amongst IFCs takes place not only at the local level of financial products/services and process optimisation, but also in terms of national regulation and governance, which are embedded in complex, multi-layered networks. Financial institutions and actors are strongly affected by regional forces such as EU juridical harmonisation or Asian economic growth dynamics. Local and national governments have also made use of the finance industry as a strategic sector in shaping economic trajectories and urban development.
The objective of this session is to shed light on the changing spatial structures of the global financial system and finance industry, particularly in terms of the territorialities of IFCs and offshore centres. This includes the regulation and governance of global finance, the dynamic relationships between finance capital and nation-states, and how social and cultural constructions of people and places are mobilised in the development of IFCs. By focusing on the territorial impacts of financial centre development, we seek to connect the global production system of high finance with more localised financial systems and actors. We welcome conceptual as well as empirical papers that explore (but are not limited to) the following issues:
  • regulation and governance of IFCs;
  • the role of offshore financial centres and financial engineering on new territorialities of finance;
  • ABS firms and IFC development;
  • the impact of particular financial markets on IFC development;
  • IFC networks: competition and inter-city relations;
  • connecting the ‘local’ (IFCs) with the ‘global’ (global financial system);
  • measuring value creation, enhancement, capture and transfer in and between IFCs;
  • studying key actors and elite groups in IFCs as drivers of the global financial system;
  • impact of the recent global financial crisis on IFC development;
  • trajectories of specific IFCs and their implications for urban/regional development. 
Please send abstracts (max 250 words) and contact details to Sabine Dörry ( and Karen Lai ( by Monday 10th February 2014.
For general information on the conference, please refer to the conference website