First Marine Economics Courses Offered in Ireland (and other multiplier effects of a Fulbright Schuman grant)

Dr. Stephen Hynes is a researcher at the SEMRU (Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit) at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, National University of Ireland, Galway. He just returned from a 3-month Fulbright Schuman stay in the United States, and he tells us more about his stay below:

“I spent 3 months as a Fulbright Schuman scholar, from the 10/22/2012 to the 1/23/2013, on placement at the Center for the Blue Economy, in the Monterey Institute of International Studies, California in order to develop a template for the development of a marine socio-economic information system.

My stay at the Center for the Blue Economy, in Monterey, California was a fantastic experience. I had time to work on my own research in an exciting environment and had also time to develop new research interests with new people. Of course I also made time to soak up the atmosphere of the US and to get a feel for what it is like to reside there. Not only did I complete the work I had planned for my stay but I also helped the host institute set up a non-market valuation study that they have been working on since I returned home. I have also stayed involved with that project since my return home.

Also while visiting the Center I was lucky enough to have shared an office with a visiting scholar from China who was doing similar work to me in his home institute, the Chinese National Date and Information Service, Tianjin, China. We ended up writing a research paper together on the Chinese ocean economy which has already been accepted for publication and he has organised an invite for me to visit his home institute in China next year which I am very excited about. We have also started working on a second paper together. This was an unexpected networking opportunity that I had not foreseen.

In total I wrote up 2 papers while I was at the Center that have already been accepted for publication. I acknowledge as you can see in the attached (just before the reference section) the fact that I completed these papers while I was based in the US as a Fulbright scholar. The second joint paper on the Chinese Ocean Economy is currently in press. I also worked on a number of other papers that I am currently in the process of completing now that my lecturing duties have been completed for the semester.

I also used my time in the US to examine closely the marine economics type courses being offered to undergrads and post grads at the centre where I was based. Through this and discussions with the course organisers I have, since returning home, developed both an undergrad and masters level course in Marine Economics which I will deliver in the new academic year in my home institute. These will be the first marine economics courses to have ever been offered in Ireland which is another exciting repercussion of my Fulbright experience.

I also intend to continue collaboration with the host institute through a student exchange programme that we have now put in place and the first host institute student arrives here for a 3 month stay with us this June – something else I am also very excited about! One think that really impressed me at the Center for the Blue Economy was how the researchers and staff did not just analyse the data but actually got actively involved in the area of research be it wetland conservation, conservation of fish stocks or beach reclamation. This is something I now hope to do more of – getting out there and engaging with the stakeholders rather than just sitting analysing the data in my office away from the project on the ground.  Indeed I have already reoriented some of my research on the back of my visit so that I am more involved with the stakeholders.

All in all it was a fantastic experience and outside of the professional experiences I also got to reside in a beach side apartment where my commute to my office every day was literally a 25 minute walk along a beautiful beach. I don’t think I will ever have as nice a commute to a work place again! I also joined a local sea kayaking club and loved in the evenings and weekends to head out for a paddle amongst the beautiful sea otters and sea lions. The marine wildlife was absolutely spectacular in and round Monterey. I also of course had many good nights out with colleagues in and around Monterey and travelled extensively all over California. Also I took up running on the fantastic coastal trails that were in and around Monterey and I have kept up that activity on my return home so the visit has been great for both mind and body!

Actually, the only downside to the whole experience was having to come home after only 3 months – just as I was finally getting into the rhythm of life in the US. Next time will have to be a longer stay!”