Unfortunately, my travel budget is such that I am unable to travel out of the country for conferences this year, so I won't be seeing you all in Montreal next week. Why? Because my law school doesn't fund me anything (well, a one-time of $100, which I am saving for LSA 2009). Now that I've advanced to candidacy, though, I can apply for a one-time grant of $500. I'm also saving that for LSA 2009. I think I should join LSA, because then I can apply for travel grants. So you spend money, but you can get money--maybe. But yeah, this year I'm missing out on LSA and ASA. I'm waiting for 2009, when all of my conference money will be blown on LSA, ASA (well, that'll be cheap, because I'll just get a visitor's pass), and AALS.
But what I really wish is that I had funding for conferences at which I don't present. Conferences where I could go just to learn stuff. American Sociological Association, American Political Science Association, etc. I would learn a lot, I would spread my interdisciplinary wings. This would be most valuable to grad students and young scholars.
Really, I wish there was a way for grad students to get around more in terms of academic conferences. They, of all people, need the exposure to good papers and presentations (not everything is good at these conferences, but the great variety in quality is good for a young scholar to observe, as is the distinction between good and bad). They are more likely to benefit from the networking opportunities and it is good to be socialized into the world of academia by observing academics at their nerd meccas. You learn a lot by watching people interact with one another, and the LSA is like the world's biggest faculty lounge. Plus, we are more likely (though not always) to be unencumbered by family, so traveling isn't as much of a burden. Leaving for a week isn't so bad if you don't have a kid. Students could learn from people more established in their field. The established people in the field would get a revitalizing jolt from the future whippersnapper/usurpers. Everybody wins.
So what I'm saying is that travel grants should be more generous, and they should just waive the registration fees for grad students. Especially if you're a grad student presenting. Especially if you're not presenting. Why do they have fees, again? In the name of all that is nerdy, I say that this is a great idea. True, more grad students will go, filling up the seats in the rooms and asking all sorts of questions. But again, this is a bad thing? We'll support the local economy, even if we cram 4-5 to a hotel room and pack peanut butter and bread. I mean, there's always that happy hour you have to go to.
I vow, when I become a professor, that I will somehow figure a way to get grad students funding to travel to conferences, and will pay myself for dinner for a grad student or two at each conference. Not that peanut butter isn't good.
Also, any Belle-friendly non-psycho blog buddy (particularly those I know in real life) planning on going to APSA, MPSA, or WPSA in 2008-2009 should email me, because I really hate paying for singles at hotels.