IPMEN 2018 was hosted by the National Taiwan University, whose President Ching-Fong Chang was a representative organizer. Thanks too, to the great efforts of the Taiwan Marine Education Centre (and all the volunteers), led by Director, Cheng-Chien Chang.
I’ve been very fortunate to participate in five IPMEN conferences over the last 12 years and each has been an enlightening experience. The conferences have developed a Pacific ocean-wide community of educators and participants, who come away with fresh insights into marine education from around the Pacific and deeper knowledge about the particular place that holds the conference. I was determined to travel to Taiwan for this IPMEN, not only to learn from and reconnect with other Pacific educators but because Pelican1, the vessel we built and still work on, has a cultural affiliation to the home of migrating Austronesian people. These people built and traveled in boats that ended up settling across the entire Pacific Ocean. This wave of migration began over 3,500 years ago from Taiwan and nearby and our voyaging modern double-hulled catamaran was designed partly in homage to this history.
There is normally a larger Australian contingent at the IPMEN conferences, particularly as Harry Breidahl from Australia is on the organising committee, but he ended up sharing our IPMEN news with EMSEA in Newcastle this year, which meant that I was the only Australian representative.
The international contingent included:
1. Tsuyoshi Sasaki from Japan*
2. Michael Spranger, USA*
3. Young Ma from Ocean University of China (Peoples Republic of China)*
4. Sylvia Spalding, Hawaii*
5. Jose Barlis Jr, Philiipines
6. Josein Fajardo III, Philippines
7. Kimberly Gervereau, French-American based in the Philippines
8. Mo Chen, China
9. Chandni Thakkar, India
10. Annelies Andriga-Davis (Netherlands based in Philippines)
11. Yeung Lap Yin, Hong Kong
12. Michellse Smith, Hawaii
13. Natalie Davey, Australia
14. Naoki Nishimura, Japan
There were about 300 people participating in the conference. Though these numbers shifted daily over the entire conference and venues. If you are interested, the presenters and abstracts are available on the IPMEN Taiwan website. It was great to see involvement in the program of high school students from Taiwan and some students travelling from Japan. A performance by Primary School students about sustainable fishing was another highlight.
Taiwan as an island nation recognised that they needed to promote marine education and enhance the Ocean Literacy of their citizens, so in 2001 they produced the “Ocean White Paper” and revised it again in 2017. This has led to a lot more focus on marine education and training of teachers to be able to promote it. The National Taiwan University was funded in 2013 to develop the “Taiwan Marine Education Centre” to help deliver the ideas of the “White Paper on Marine Education Policy.” Since 2008, marine education has been a major topic in the grade 1 to 9 curriculum guidelines. The government also established 22 Resource Centers for Marine Education (one in each district), as well as the Resource Center for High School Marine Education and the Resource Center for Vocational Marine Affairs and Aquaculture. Each year teachers submit their annual projects and they receive money to run them. While they must submit annually, they can submit a four-year project and the annual submission can be an update on how they will modify there program based on what they have learned the previous year.
The Theme of the conference was "Co-constructing the Development System for Marine Education." The IPMEN conference findings will be used "become the reference point for the [Taiwan] Ministry of Education to make or modify related policy in the future."
I have taken home a lot of ideas from listening to the keynotes and oral presentations. Australia has a long way to go to begin to implement an ocean-focussed curriculum and it was exciting to see how much Taiwan has done for “Ocean Literacy’ in a relatively short amount of time. Thanks to Sylvia Spalding too, for your concise notes of the jam-packed IPMEN Taiwan 2018 conference. The multi-disciplinary aspects of studying the Ocean make good partnerships essential and the nature of IPMEN means many new connections were forged or lessons shared.
The conference was interspersed with banquets, field trips and innumerable inspiring conversations. It was great to connect with new people from around the Pacific, catch up with old friends and get to know and connect with many wonderful Taiwanese Ocean-minded people. I would like to thank our hosts from the Taiwan Marine Education Centre for taking care of us all so well and planning such a rich marine education conference experience. Many people working in this field are keenly aware of the threats to the health of our Oceans. The informal theme permeating most work is that marine education and particularly “Ocean Literacy’, is a necessity for every one, and in terms of climate change, only increasing relevance.
I would like to pay my respects the family, friends and colleagues of Dr. YU-TA Chien. Dr Chien was part of the welcoming committee for the internationals and cared for us during the conference. His untimely passing is incredibly sad news for the IPMEN family.
For a glimpse of IPMEN 2018 on Taiwanese TV- have a look at https://www.facebook.com/255933467752914/posts/2174295425916699/