WG Capacity Development Examples

SCOR working group proposals are required to include a section on how they will address the issue of building capacity in their area of science through the work of their group.  Most proponents do not give enough thought to this topic.  This document provides information about how SCOR can help and some examples of what kind of capacity-building activities previous working groups have undertaken. Capacity-building can refer to the training of early-career students and scientists from any country and/or older scientists from developing countries.

What can SCOR provide?

SCOR expects working groups to develop and raise non-SCOR support for most of their capacity-building activities.  However, SCOR currently has a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation to pay for the travel of developing country students and scientists to scientific meetings.  Working groups can apply for these travel funds from SCOR, up to one year before any special capacity-building events are held. The application for this support is available at the SCOR Travel Grant Webpgage.

What should working groups do?

Working groups should plan and find funding for whatever capacity-building activities they think are appropriate. Some of the following approaches have been used by previous working groups.

Using working group meetings for capacity building—Some working group members invite their post-doctoral fellows or students to participate in working group meetings, at the senior scientists’ expense. Some WGs hold their meetings in conjunction with major meetings such as the Ocean Sciences Meeting and Gordon Research Conferences, which makes it easier for Associate Members and early-career scientists who are not members of the WGs to attend. For example, WG 138 held its first meeting in Amsterdam and invited young scientists to participate in some discussions and five WGs held their annual meetings in conjunction with Ocean Sciences in 2018, allowing a large number of early-career scientists to participate in WG activities. Lastly, a number of WGs formalize mentorship relationships between senior and early-career scientist members of the working group so that mentorship can occur in the course of the WGs activities.

Holding training events in conjunction with WG meetings—Using this approach, WG members can serve as mentors and instructors and their travel costs are already paid as part of their participation in the WG meeting.  This approach is especially useful if the WG meeting is held in a developing country.

  • WG 129 held its second meeting and an open symposium on 5-9 October 2008 in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • WG 139 held a symposium, their WG meeting, and a one-day training workshop on ligand methods in Šibenik, Croatia on 7-11 April 2015.
  • WG 144 held its final meeting and symposium in Goa, India, which provided an opportunity for scientists from the region to attend and to contribute to a special issue of Deep-Sea Research II. Providing opportunities for early-career and developing country scientists to publish in internationally recognized peer-reviewed journals provides important opportunities for such scientists.
  • WG 161 held a training in conjunction with a WG meeting, and made course materials freely available on their website.

Convening a training workshop or science conference separate from a WG meeting—In some cases, funds are more readily available from non-SCOR sources to hold training events in locations or at times separate from WG meetings.

  • WG 136 convened the first AGU Chapman Conference in Africa, making it easier for scientists from Africa to attend.
  • WG 136 partnered with the WMO/IOC Data Buoy Cooperation Panel (DBCP) and others to hold a training workshop in climate modelling in Mauritius.
  • WG 138 held a Short Course on Culturing of Planktonic Foraminifera on Santa Catalina Island, California, in 2015.
  • WG 146 held three training workshops on methods for studying radioactivity in the ocean, in China (2016), France (2017), and Puerto Rico (2019).
  • WG 147 held an International Training Workshop for Nutrient Analysis, co-sponsored by POGO and SCOR and organized by the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and the Plymouth Marine Lab in 2007.
  • The IAEA Environment Laboratories in Monaco trained 16 participants from 16 countries on 24-28 May 2019 on designing and running multi-stressor experiments. The course taught participants how to use the Multiple Environmental Driver Design Lab for Experiments (MEDDLE), produced by the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) Working Group 149.

Producing on-line lectures, PowerPoint presentations, best-practice manuals—Some groups produce resources freely available online, instead of, or in addition to, in-person events. Many SCOR WGs produced best-practice manuals of various sorts over the years and published them in the UNESCO Technical Papers in Marine Science, the UNESCO Monographs on Oceanographic Methodology, or the IOC Manuals and Guides series. WGs are welcome to deposit best practice documents in SCOR’s communities in the Ocean Best Practices repository or Zenodo. Additionally, SCOR WGs have placed educational products on-line in a variety of forms and locations:

Other Ideas

Working group members are creative and have access to various sources of funding and other resources to develop capacity building activities, so it is likely that WGs will develop additional approaches to capacity building in the future. Some potential ideas include the following:

  • Partner with other SCOR activities (e.g., research projects and infrastructural activities) to carry out capacity building—Most SCOR-supported research projects and infrastructural projects (e.g., IOCCP) conduct summer schools and open science conferences on a regular basis. WGs that are focused on topics related to a specific research project could cooperate in developing training activities that are part of or help just before or after summer schools or open science conferences.
  • Plan an event in conjunction with the SCOR Regional Graduate School of Oceanography in Namibia—SCOR supports a month-long Research Discovery Camp in Namibia each year. WGs with topics relevant to a specific year’s Camp could hold their annual meeting in Namibia and partner with the Camp organizers to provide some special training.
  • Encourage a WG member to serve as a SCOR Visiting Scholar—The SCOR Visiting Scholars program sends scientists to developing countries to teach and mentor for at least two weeks. WG members could apply to teach on topics relevant to their group.

The SCOR Committee on Capacity Building and Executive Director are available to help develop ideas for WG capacity-building activities.