Glasgow’s first conference legacy assessment shows the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS) had ‘impact on every level’ for the city, including increasing establishing collaborations between local universities and raising the profile of local academics.

The case study of the conference’s wider implications for the city of Glasgow showed tangible benefits for the local knowledge economy, positioning the city as a global centre of excellence for the phonetics and sociolinguistics community.

The research forms part of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau’s Tomorrow’s Bureau, Today legacy project, which it launched this year to delve beyond the economic value of each major conference to look at the wide-ranging impact.

The ICPhS event attracted nearly 1,000 specialists from the phonetics and sociolinguistics sector to Glasgow in 2015, delivering an economic impact of £2.3 million. Yet Aileen Crawford, head of conventions at Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: “We feel there is an opportunity for destinations to showcase more than just the economic impact of a conference.”

The bid for the conference was led by local ambassador Professor Jane Stuart Smith, a world-leading professor of phonetics and sociolinguistics, who has spent the last 20 years using Glasgow as her research platform to study the changing landscape of language. Since the conference, Professor Stuart Smith’s global profile has increased and her work has been exposed to a wider international phonetics circuit. She will now form part of the permanent council for the organisation the 2019 ICPhS Conference in Melbourne, and has undertaken a senior role within the International Phonetic Association as the Vice President of the Permanent Council.

A consortium of Scottish universities, The University of Glasgow, the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh all worked together on the bid and conference delivery. As a direct result of the conference they have established lasting relationships that have produced a new framework for working collaboratively on future academic projects.

Furthermore, Glasgow City Marketing Bureau says one-third of the research papers from the UK community at the conference were produced in Scotland, shining light on the work of local academics.

Additionally, Professor Stuart Smith developed networking opportunities from her attendance at the 2011 Hong Kong conference, receiving a joint funding grant to publish work with Canadian peer Professor Morgan Sonderegger. Initial concepts discussed at that event were advanced to develop an algorithm predominantly based on the study of Glaswegian dialect. The Glasgow conference was a platform for the culmination of four years of collaboration, a project entitled: ‘The voicing contrast across 100 years of real- and apparent-time in Glaswegian’. This success highlights the progression of conference attendance and networking to an end goal – the submission of a major project bid monitoring changing language over time.

Crawford added: “Our analysis shows legacy impact on every level; from raising the profile of our academic Professor Stuart Smith as a sector influencer, to showcasing the conference journey and the importance of nurturing networking relationships and project ideas; to shining a spotlight on the wealth of research developed at a meeting. In Glasgow we’re continually adapting to changing trends of the industry to keep the city at the forefront of innovation. We look forward to continuing to challenge the subject of legacy, whilst also bringing added value to our clients.”

Featured image: Professor Jane Stuart Smith, whose profile on the global phonetics circuit increased dramatically following the event