It was March 2020 when we submitted our application to BU’s Global Visiting Fellowship (GVF). Dr Luciana Esteves (LES, SciTech) reached out asking if I was interested in starting a collaboration taking the opportunity of the GVF scheme. We knew each other but have never worked together before. We thought it was a great opportunity to merge our research interests to assess how an ecosystem-based approach could make coastal vulnerability assessments more integrated to facilitate coastal adaptation. You can find insights about how our collaboration started in this blog.
An international collaboration proposal was born and later approved, great! Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit hard. All research and teaching schedules, timetables, academic calendars, everything became VERY uncertain. We were replanning activities without knowing when we would be able to start. We decided to do whatever was possible remotely. We started to co-supervise a postgraduate student enrolled at UFRGS and helped to kick start the process of establishing a BU-UFRGS MoU. We also organised an online workshop gathering researchers from across Brazil to discuss the methods and challenges of integrating ecosystem-based planning to better understand and manage coastal vulnerabilities in support of coastal adaptation.
It took almost two years for my first visit to BU (and my first ever to the UK) to happen. This was no easy task to coordinate. Federal institutions in Brazil, such as UFRGS, still have many restrictions in place regarding international travel. It was also difficult to find a period of time that was mutually convenient. The academic calendar in Brazil is still far from normal and, in UFRGS, we are still working remotely. At last, I arrived in Bournemouth on 6th March 2022 for a 17-day stay. It was very good to be able to travel and progress with our collaboration in person. Here are some personal impressions and highlights of my time in Bournemouth:
- It was great to be able to be on Talbot campus and see BU’s facilities. I leave very impressed by the infrastructure and how sustainability is incorporated into the buildings. This is something you must be proud of!
- I gave a lecture on Ecosystem-based management principles applied to environmental planning to undergraduate students (in the Applications of Environmental Science unit). This was the first time since December 2019 that I gave a lecture physically present in a classroom! It felt so good, thank you!
- In hybrid mode, I gave a presentation to staff and PhD students about our laboratory and the ecosystem-based approaches we are using to support environmental management to address the needs of local organisations and government.
- I have provided demonstrations of the TerrSet model applications for land-use change and ecosystem service mapping to staff and PhD students with potential for future collaboration.
- We have proposed a special session for the Royal Geographical Society conference (to be held in Newcastle, 30 August to 2 September 2022).
- We have started to write an academic paper and a practical guide for managers (particularly in less developed countries) about the application of ecosystem-based approaches to reduce coastal vulnerabilities and foster coastal adaptation.
- We have identified possible calls and drafted a plan to secure funding from Brazil for staff and student mobility.
I’m very glad with the progress made. Luciana was a wonderful host and we worked well together. During my visit, I was contacted by many members of the university (from the administration, researchers and PhD students) and everyone was very polite and respectful. It is clear to me that BU is well-prepared for international collaboration. Besides work, I was very lucky with the weather and managed to visit some amazing places during weekends. The landscapes are beautiful, the Jurassic Coast is breathtaking, and London is a truly vibrant global city.
I look forward to continuing this collaboration beyond this Fellowship. My sincere thanks to all involved.
by Tatiana Silva (firstname.lastname@example.org)
BU’s Global Visiting Fellow
Associate Professor at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, southern Brazil