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Exchange workshops on fieldwork and transferable skills among partner universities

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and the Université de Bretagne Occidentale (UBO) organized workshops on fieldwork practices and transferable skills to be incorporated into the Master's programs of the participating universities.

The first of these was the workshop "Fieldwork as an educational approach for research-based master's programs", which took place from May 30 to June 2 in Brest (France). During this workshop, UBO exchanged cross-cutting and multidisciplinary fieldwork practices on ecology, chemistry, physics, economics, and environmental law, among others. In order to boost curriculum development and work towards sustainable ecosystem management based on research. All consortium partners had the opportunity to immerse themselves in topics such as marine ecology, marine hydrology and chemistry. This workshop was complemented by on-site practices in the laboratory, a research boat and a visit to the Iroise Marine Natural Park.

The second was the "Transferable Skills" workshop from June 6 to 8 in Brussels, Belgium. In it, VUB focused on equipping partners with the latest tools to prepare their students to actively participate in scientific research and management of aquatic ecosystems, but also in other sectors involved in aquatic sciences (NGOs, private sector, government, others). During these workshops, consortium participants exchange knowledge and experience on transferable skills that can boost the employability of graduates in the labor market, e.g. leadership, entrepreneurship, communication skills, problem-solving, scientific communication, etc. In addition, participants visit European and Belgian organizations involved in marine science policy and marine knowledge exchange, such as the European Marine Board (EMB) and the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), respectively.

The workshops conclude with sessions on "Design Thinking and Problem Solving" and "Stakeholder Engagement", involving alumni from the consortium universities. These exchanges of experience strengthen the relationship between the consortium members and allow for smooth communication on future ongoing project activities.

Some of the professors tell us about their experience in these workshops:

Victor Aramayo (UNMSM - National University of San Marcos): It was interesting to learn how the professionalization masters are managed in Brest (...) it was based on identifying very specific problem-solving issues and working directly with the industry. It was also interesting to learn about the working system of the Flanders Marine Institute. A platform (...) that integrates academia, public and private entities (...) is an option that could help improve the logistics and management of research activities. The metabolic theory and ecology course, based on R is an option that also appeared in Brest and that can help in the beginning of the internationalization of the master with the participation of students (and professors) from different countries. In this case, the option of working in joint and distance hours is also being discussed in the Faculty.

Photos of the workshop about field and lab work methodologies in Brest.

Gladys Rincón (ESPOL - Polytechnic School of the Litoral): The Brest-Brussels workshop was good, interesting and enriching; from my point of view the objectives were met. Both sides made it possible to establish new links with researchers (French and Belgian) that will bear fruit in a short time. The Brest workshop showed many resources that we can use in our masters, basically in field and laboratory trips. The last workshop used design thinking tools, which I am already applying in one of my courses.

Design Thinking workshop in Brussels

Xavier Lastra (UCE - Central University of Ecuador): The experience of the workshops in France and Belgium was very positive, the topics covered were useful and of great interest. Knowing how they are working at the graduate level, their methodologies, the participatory experiences, the relationship with other sectors, enriched my vision on the development of graduate programs. In the future, I believe it will be very important to maintain collaboration between the universities participating in the project, both to explore the development of new projects and to strengthen graduate programs.

Visit to the Flanders Marine Instituto (VLIZ) - Belgium

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