The São Paulo School 2018: all together to save the oceans
The SPSAS, held from 13 to 25 August 2018, included a 12-day course, poster and tutoring sessions, and a one-day field trip to Baixada Santista, a metropolitan coastal region in the state of Sao Paulo formed by 9 cities (Bertioga, Cubatão, Guarujá, Itanhaém, Monguaguá, Peruíbe, Praia Grande, Santos and São Vicente), where the group could see live examples.
During the field trip to Baixada Santista, participants took a schooner tour in the morning to visit the Santos canal (which drains wastewater from the city to the ocean). The area is home to a community of about 20,000 people living in “palafitas” – small houses built on platforms supported by stakes or logs in the sea and popular with tourists for its beautiful beaches. In the afternoon the group learned about the effects of coastal erosion that is taking place in Ilha Porchat at the city of São Vicente.
Here’s what some of the participants and lecturers had to say:
I did not know it was such a big event. It was important to understand how to apply knowledge in practice”, said Francisco José Soto Simpson from the Technical University Federico Santa Maria, Chile.
Simpson was one of the 109 students who participated in the SPSAS. Other participants were from countries in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. “This event opened my mind to other points of view. It exceeded my expectations”, said Pedro Henrique Dias Marques from the Federal University of South Bahia, Brazil. Talking about the many aspects in which the School was enriching, he added: “The School was an opportunity to get to know other programs, participate and grow professionally”.
The course also provided an excellent networking opportunity for all participants, resulting in plans for partnerships in projects. “Students worked very intensively, looking for connections among the most varied areas in the marine sciences”, said Alexander Turra, coordinator of the School from the Oceanographic Institute at São Paulo University, Brazil. A concrete example of such connections and exchange of information was provided by the participant Dias Marques: “I made new partnerships for future projects like an exchange program in Canada.”
“For me, the most interesting part of the course was the interdisciplinarity. It may not be essential, but it is necessary and very important. Having people from diverse areas and places addressing the same topic professionally is wonderful. A great opportunity”, said Maurício Rebouças Rocha from Federal University of Campina Grande, Brazil, “For example, we have our research on beach erosion and we can anticipate what it will look like in 50 years, but this does not happen in other places. For instance, a participant from Fiji explained that erosion is likely to make the island disappear in a few years”.
All examples seen during the field trip were useful to scientists. Ocean pollution is not only an ecological issue but also a health problem because many people survive on contaminated seafood for Priyatma Singh from the University of the South Pacific, Fiji, “It was very important to me, especially now that I’m moving from natural science to social science. I want to put everything I have learned into practice. The School was amazing”. After the field trip, students used all the content learned in group-dynamics to exercise the relationship between science and management.
“I’ve learned a lot in the Sao Paulo School. I am grateful for this opportunity, the first one of this kind. My passion to save the oceans is back. I want to return to my country and do something about it. It’s amazing because everyone learns here and can apply the knowledge acquired in their countries“. Dunuhinge Amavi Nimesha Silva, a participant from Mauritius Island who is studying at the Basque Country University, Spain.
The coordinator of the Sao Paulo School, Alexander Turra, was very happy with the group of participants and speakers, and the work developed during the event. “The SPSAS Ocean has been a success. After the course, we intend to launch products related to interdisciplinary science and governance, some of which will include the participation of students. We also intend to create a long-term network platform with the participants of the course that will allow to develop other products, projects, and publications, and it will approach this fantastic team of students that we have managed to gather here”.
A webcast of the lectures, photos, presentations, videos, can be found at: