A Call for Commitment
Volume III – No. 2 – June 2006
Some months ago, T2M has been asked to consider co-organizing a historical
strand of sessions at the World Conference on Transportation Research, to be held on June 24-28, 2007 in Berkeley, California, USA, and organized by the University of California (see www.uctc.net/wctrs). The organization behind this conference is the World Conference on Transportation Research Society (WCTRS).
This request has been discussed at the mid-year meeting of the Executive Committee in Leuven, Belgium, against the background of our strategy (backed by a majority of the members, as our member surveys testify) to expand towards the transport planning and policy fields. The EC decided unanimously to grasp this opportunity, because we consider the possibilities of applying our historical craft to current planning and policy issues as very promising indeed.
Our experience so far, both in terms of proposals to our annual conferences and in terms of submissions to The Journal of Transport History, tells us that we still have a long way to go before the two fields can fruitfully co-operate. Many proposals and submissions tend to get rejected because their historical aspects
do not comply with the most basic principles of historical scrutiny and source critique. Organizing a series of special sessions at a conference of planners themselves on a permanent basis may lead to an improvement of this state of affairs. It also may lead to a debate about the general relationship between history and policy/planning, opening occupational possibilities for T2M members. It most certainly will lead to better contacts with this field.
We therefore call upon T2M’s membership to consider proposing historical papers which explicitly addresses current policy and planning issues or which deal with the methodological and practical problems of the history – planning/policy relationship. If the interest is large enough to fill one or two sessions, we will send a general call for papers into the realm of planners and policy makers, hoping for a comparable expression of interest. We hope that a mix of mobility and transport historians on the one side, and planners and policy makers on the other, will generate a debate benefitting both fields. We consider this conference strand as an experiment, which we will have to evaluate afterwards. If successful, the WCTRS conference might become T2M’s second regular annual public activity with an ‘official T2M stamp’ on it.
If you are interested in presenting at the Berkeley conference, please send an abstract and a short CV directly to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) before 15 July 2006. I guess and hope, 5 – 10 (especially American) members will respond. I will then send out a general Call for Papers, hopefully together with WCTRS, with whom I also hope to set up some sort of ‘programme committee’. I will keep you posted about further developments.