Back now from AAR for a couple of days and about to head back to work tomorrow to knock of the chaos of the week before the Examiners’ Meeting on Friday. If I can escape from that unscathed then I’ll probably drop by the STAANZ (Systematic Theology Association of Aotearoa-New Zealand) conference that is on at the end of this week.
I enjoyed AAR more this time than my first time last year (in Chicago). I knew a few more people, and Montréal was a nicer place to get around on foot. The weather was good (just like Auckland in mid-Winter) and dry, and there were some good bookshops etc. near my hotel which were good to browse in the gaps between doing conference things. Plus the conference was based on the edge of Old Montréal so I got to have a wander around there a bit.
The conference felt a little smaller than last year (and I think numbers were down a little), though having the conference in the spacious Palais des congrès de Montréal may have helped that. The facilities were good, it was nice to have almost all the sessions on one place, there was food etc. available in the complex, and it was connected to the ‘underground city’ tunnels etc. There seemed to be a good number of international attendees (over 700, I think) which was good, and I enjoyed the International Breakfast on the first day.
My session and presentation went okay, I think. I had a couple of good questions and some discussion afterwards, and I also attended a session on religion and popular culture that looked a transhuman themes too. I enjoyed some of the religion, media and culture sessions, and dropped into several on online learning and practical theology that also had some good points.
Also, had some serendipitous encounters with people that I’d only made contact with through email and blogs before. Plus some meals with other people that I’d jacked up in the time before the meeting. If I return next year to the meeting in Atlanta, I’ll have more scope for doing that again.
The book exhibits etc. were a little disappointing this year. Perhaps the combination of the meeting being held in Canada, plus the lower numbers and the economic situation that seems to have affected purchases etc. meant that some publishers weren’t there this year, and also a lot of stalls didn’t carry stock for sale, just for order (at least until the last morning of the conference when display copies were being flogged off). Still picked up some interesting volumes – just need the time to read them.
I was a little disappointed at the last day of the conference, when sessions were still on but most people seemed to have headed home. The pre-meeting meetings seemed much better attended, so I ghosted through a few last sessions.
Travel to the conference was relatively trouble-free, though I won’t be doing the 9 hour layover in LAX between flights again if I can help it (and I can get the uni travel agent to sort things out better). I was too tired to want to venture off into LA (esp. without someone else to come along for the ride), but there isn’t much (anything!) to do around the airport. Was glad to get home after 27 hours of travel to Auckland.
Anyway, back to work tomorrow (and to write a report about my trip). Looking forward to semester being finally over and then heading into a longish vacation over the Christmas break.
Photos attached below (Click to see larger pictures)
Old Montréal 2
Old Montréal 3
Montréal cityscape – looking back from Old Montréal
Palais des congrès de Montréal