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The University of Southampton
Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

Southampton welcomes prestigious Fulbright Scholars

Published: 25 January 2019
Fulbright Scholars

The University was delighted to welcome 53 Fulbright scholars from the US who are currently studying in the UK. This year’s annual Fulbright Forum took place on 9-11 January and focussed on the maritime theme ‘Connected by Oceans: Exploring the Impact of the Oceans on People and Places through the Ages’.

Fulbright is one of the most prestigious scholarship programmes in the world, fostering cultural and educational exchange for some of the most intelligent and ambitious students in the world. Over 70 years, Fulbright scholars from both the US and UK have gone on to be hugely successful on a global scale with many going on to serve in the US Senate and United Nations and win Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes, to name just a few.

SMMI were delighted to have the opportunity to showcase some of their impressive academic staff and research areas in the field of climate change.   

Panel presentations, chaired by Professor Damon Teagle, Director of SMMI addressed the global challenge by asking ‘why bother worrying about climate change?’  In doing so, expert colleagues provided insight into the science behind the recently published Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, explaining why taking count of the science is important and necessary for communities around the world. 

First up was Gavin Foster, Professor of Isotope Geochemistry in the School of Ocean and Earth Science.  In his talk, Gavin placed historic climate change in the context of natural climate change.

The second talk was given by Philip Goodwin, Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Oceanography and Climate in the School of Ocean and Earth Science. Phil explored the future climate projections for different fossil fuel emission scenarios.

Ivan Haigh is an Associate Professor in Coastal Oceanography in the School of Ocean and Earth Science, and gave the third talk on investigating the science behind sea-level rise.

The final talk was given by Sally Brown, Senior Research Fellow in the Coastal Engineering Group of the School of Engineering.   She was lead author in the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on the implications of a rise of 1.5°C in temperatures and her talk explored the implications of sea-level rise for vulnerable communities.

These fascinating presentations were very well received by the audience and invoked an interactive debate on the impact of climate change.

The Fulbright Scholars also demonstrated impressive intellectual agility, political engagement, and ethical subtlety in the sessions on ‘Piracy’ led by Dr Stephanie Jones from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. 

Moving from the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to Captain Jack Sparrow, Stephanie introduced the Scholars to legal definitions of piracy; summarised the significance of seaborne brigands to the histories of modern Empires; and asked why ‘the pirate’ continues to be a compelling narrative figure in books and on film.  The scholars then considered a range of controversial issues.  These included ransom payments to pirates for the release of ships, cargo, and crew; the use of armed guards aboard merchant vessels travelling through pirate waters; the relationship between historical and fictional accounts of pirates, and how these bear upon debates about race, the inequities of the global economy, and neo-imperialism; and the parallels and differences between maritime and intellectual piracy. 

The Scholars reminisced about storybook pirates they’d encountered as children; they developed cracking challenges to international norms and rules: they thought seriously about the ocean as a space of both violence and freedom.  By turns disciplined and freebooting, serious and fun, the Scholars proved themselves a formidable crew!

Also as part of the Forum, the scholars enjoyed a Drinks Reception at the new John Hansard Gallery along with visits to the University’s Waterfront Campus and the historic dockyard.

The Director of Fulbright programmes, Amy Moore, reflected on the Forum:

“The University of Southampton put on a fantastic schedule of sessions, and we all quickly became enthralled by oceanography, innovative approaches to understanding climate change, work of the WorldPop program, marine robotics, pirates and more! It was a real treat visiting the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and enjoying a private viewing of the John Hansard Art gallery. Perhaps the nicest thing about the conference though, was the warm reception we received from everyone at University of Southampton, including all of the experts who delivered presentations, who went above and beyond to interact with our Fulbright scholars.” 

Read the Fulbright Commission news article here.

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Fulbright scholars receive a warm welcome from Professor Sir Christopher Snowden
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Welcome Reception at the John Hansard Gallery
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Professor Damon Teagle addresses the global challenge by asking ‘why bother worrying about climate change?’
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Exploring the global challenge of climate change
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Gavin placed historic climate change in the context of natural climate change.
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