Bringing sustainable development to ocean science education

How do we transform the ocean science education of the future? In what way must teaching change to encompass this? These were a couple of the key questions discussed during a three-day event in Cape Town in mid-January 2023 as part of the One Ocean Expedition.

Participants SDG14 event in Cape Town as part of the One Ocean Expedition.
EVERYONE ON DECK: The participants in the IAU-UiB joint SDG14 session during One Ocean Expedition on deck of tall ship Statsraad Lehmkuhl in Cape Town harbour, with some friends and specially invited guests for the opening day.

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”Teaching ocean science and SDGs in higher education” was the subject for a three-day session organised jointly by the International Association of Universities (IAU) and the University of Bergen (UiB) as part of the One Ocean Expedition (OOE) visiting Cape Town.

Funded by FILAMO

Several partners from the UiB led IAU SDG14 cluster participated with the IAU cluster leads for SDG13 and SDG15 taking part. There were also partners from the FILAMO project, funded by the Norwegian Directorate for Higher Education and Skills through the INTPART programme. UiB’s participation in the Maputo-Cape Town leg of OOE and UiB’s participation in Cape Town were funded by FILAMO.

Ocean science and the SDGs

The first day of the session was on deck on board tall ship Statsraad Lehmkuhl in the harbour of Cape Town, with course leader and UiB Professor Øyvind Fiksen hosting the event.

“For three days here in Cape Town we get together to discuss how to make ocean science education more in tune with the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Fiksen as part of his opening statement, “presenting examples from around the world, including UiB’s contribution with student-active learning during our course on board OOE across the Pacific.”

Embracing UN Ocean Decade

IAU’s Secretary General Hilligje van’t Land followed up on this when presenting the ideas behind the joint IAU-UiB event in Cape Town.

“We will be discussing the necessary transformation of higher education, our longstanding and close collaboration with UiB on SDG14 and engaging with the UN Ocean Decade during our days here in Cape Town,” she said.

Norway’s Ambassador in South Africa, Gjermund Sæther visited the event and welcomed the participants to Cape Town. He spoke of the strong ocean science ties between Norway and South Africa and how the One Ocean Expedition visiting Cape Town perfectly captures the strong ties between two proud sea-faring nations.

A transgressive opening session

On day two, Hilligje van’t Land also moderated the transgressive opening session of the event with the title “Teaching ocean science and SDGs in higher education”.

“I look forward to hearing examples from across several IAU SDG clusters and the three opening presentations from UiB, Rhodes University and the University of Ghana,” she said. 

There followed presentations by Sehoya Cotner from UiB, Heila Lotz-Sisitka from Rhodes University, and Robert “Bob” Manteaw from University of Ghana.

On day three, the seminar participants split in groups to discuss who to turn new ideas for ocean science higher education into practice.