Written by Inga May
Before the IPY Oslo Science Conference in June 2010, APECS organized a two-day workshop for 106 selected members, which was sponsored by the Research Council of Norway. The inspiration for this workshop was to provide students with an opportunity to improve their soft skills, which are essential for success in a polar career, but are often not taught at university. A large part of the workshop was dedicated to four 105 minutes long break-out sessions with invited mentors on different topics. For these sessions the participants were divided into smaller groups up to 25 people, and everybody could attend four sessions out of the following topics: Writing proposals and papers, Managing research projects and people, Communicating with the media, Presenting your results at conferences, Alternative polar careers, Influencing Policy and Policy Makers, International Collaborations and field work, and Teaching at the University Level and Education and Outreach.
During these sessions, scheduled during the late morning and early afternoon of the two workshop days, participants interacted with more experienced scientists, learned from their experience, participated in group work exercises, and asked questions that otherwise often go unanswered.
Apart from the break-out sessions, the general program started and ended with plenary speeches and key notes about e.g. ‘The Urgency of Polar Research’ (by Dave Carlson) or a discussion about the ‘Climate Gate’ controversy. During the entire weekend, the APECS group was joined in the mornings by the 120 participants of the Polar Teachers workshop, who also attended the two social evening events during the workshop. The first of these evening events was the opening reception at the Research Council of Norway on Saturday, where teachers, mentors, and APECS members met for the first time and had the chance to get to know each other over food and drinks. On Sunday evening a ship cruise including a traditional Norwegian shrimp buffet took the entire group to the house of Amundsen. Beside the beautiful scenery of the Oslo Fjord and the perfect weather, an amazing performance of Norwegian music by Ingebjörg Bratland and Silije Hegg ensured that everyone enjoyed the trip.
During the entire workshop participants as well as organizers were hosted at the Anker Hostel in the centre of Oslo. The fact that everybody stayed at the same place facilitated the communication and fostered the exchange between participants from different research areas, countries, and different career stages. The group of 106 participants was formed by 97 PhD students, 9 master students, 12 Postdocs and 8 ‘others’ from 14 different countries. Thereby 49 came from Europe (including Greenland), 33 from North America, 13 from Asia, 5 from Australia and New Zealand, 4 from South America and 2 from Africa. Additionally, the 22 organizers and the more than 35 mentors originated from over 15 different nations, which truly made this workshop a multicultural event. According to the very positive feedback from participants and mentors, the workshop seemed to fulfill and maybe even exceed their expectations.