How can young marine scientists and social scientists bridge the gulf between science and society?
Training Our Future Ocean Leaders (Ocean Leaders) is an innovative new UBC program designed to meet this challenge. It aims to givethe next generation of marine researchers new abilities to translate technical knowledge into effective policy and management for our oceans. The program emerged from UBC’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, which unites top marine researchers across disciplines behind a mission of research, teaching, and social engagement on the future of oceans and their resources.
Students in the program receive valuable professional training and opportunities not available in other graduate programs. Led by an interdisciplinary team of UBC faculty and off-campus collaborators, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows get the opportunity to reach beyond their existing fields of technical expertise. As a result, they develop professional experience in other important areas including marine law and governance, community engagement, science communication, entrepreneurship, and environmental impact assessment. Learning activities include exploring how to address real-world marine and coastal challenges, from conducting research and analysis to developing policy and management solutions, and engaging in public outreach. Workshops equip students with skills on topics including scientific communication, partnering with Indigenous communities, negotiation and mediation, and engaging with policymakers. And internships enable students to work with off-campus collaborators from industry, government, non-governmental organizations, and boundary organizations that link research to practice.
“The Ocean Leaders program has opened up many opportunities for me as a graduate student at UBC. Our class project group worked with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup to analyze data collected over the past few years along the coast of BC. Over the course of 8 months, we were able to turn an extensive dataset into a piece of academic writing, providing a comprehensive analysis and suggestions on changes that can be made to aid in the abatement of shoreline litter. This for me was the most meaningful take away from the course – it provided us with the opportunity to turn research and knowledge into action that can be used to inform meaningful changes!” – Cassandra Konecny, 2nd year Zoology MSc student
Ocean Leaders encourages students and researchers to think about how to apply their research, and how to strategically engage with other stakeholders from across different disciplines and sectors to improve the health and sustainability of our oceans.
By working together and learning from each other across disciplines, young marine scientists and social scientists can create integrated solutions to pressing marine issues.