By Zach Roche, PhD candidate, Department of Sociology
This was my fifth year returning to Blackwater Castle in Mallow, where the economy and society summer school is held each year. I enjoy it more each time I go back, and had some amusing experiences with people who couldn’t understand why anyone would go to the same conference five years in a row. Ever since my first time when I was an MA student unsure of what my exact research question was, up to now when I am in the twilight of my PhD I realized that the school was a very special place.
It brings together likeminded people to discuss the connections between economy and society, framed within the context of the President of Ireland’s Ethics Initiative, which calls on all Irish people to reflect on our moral values and the purpose of ethics in our everyday lives. The school therefore discusses topics which involve such an intersection, and this year’s school called attention to the continuing influence of religion and theology in our economy and society.
The school is more casual than a conventional conference goer may be used to, with many of the best learning experiences happening through the conversations which take place in the bar late at night, or in the beautiful forest which surrounds the castle grounds. That is not to say that the lectures are not excellent – because they are, but the school is best enjoyed as a holistic social experience and I have made many lifelong friendships because of it. I earnestly look forward to the school again next year, and would highly recommend it to anyone working in the areas of economy and society looking for a unique conference in May – and no you don’t have to go five times to appreciate it!