Diversifying Oceanography: The Coastal Ocean Environment Summer School in Ghana

Modeling and observing the global ocean environment requires a coordinated global effort. Yet, as in most STEM disciplines, Africans are under-represented in the global oceanography enterprise. The need, and the potential, for changing this is clear. The coastal resources of Africa, the world's second-largest continent, face many pressures including erosion due to sea-level rise, offshore oil drilling, increased shipping, overfishing, piracy, and others. At the same time, Africa has a young, rapidly growing population, and has several of the world's fastest-growing economies. The time is ripe for developing STEM partnerships between Africa and the rest of the world, and a more diverse global scientific community will benefit everyone.

With the above motivations in mind, we developed the Coastal Ocean Environment Summer School in Ghana. Following an exploratory trip in 2014, during which we met potential partnering institutions, we have been running the school for one week every August since 2015. The hosting Ghana institution alternates between Regional Maritime University (RMU), which trains West Africans for careers in shipping, port management, and other marine sector careers, and the University of Ghana (UG), which has a marine and fisheries sciences department. Over time the school curriculum has grown to include hands-on labs, a boat trip, instrument deployments, field trips to beaches and ports, and short research projects, in addition to lectures. From 2016-2019, about 100 West Africans participated per year. The school has a regional impact; an increasing number of participants come from Nigeria and other countries outside of Ghana. Instruction is done by resource persons from Ghana, the US, and Europe. Global north participants have included undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and professors/research scientists.

We will briefly discuss school success stories, our experience running the school virtually in 2020 (for about 60-70 participants), funding challenges, and our vision for the future of the school.