Stories from Science Camp: welcoming Omani environmental scientists - Earthwatch

Stories from Science Camp: welcoming Omani environmental scientists

Our latest Science Camp, which took place at Hill End Outdoor Education Centre near Oxford during 26-30 May, welcomed Omani environmental scientists for the first time. It was an exciting opportunity for everyone involved to discover new cultures and experiences in the context of community engagement in environmental science.

What is Earthwatch Science Camp?

We believe that community engagement should be central to environmental research. We work to empower scientists from diverse backgrounds to engage communities with science through our science camps.

Science Camps offer early-career environmental researchers the opportunity to learn about and explore the role of community engagement. Science Camps are hands-on learning programmes, combining classroom and outdoor learning. Key themes include citizen science, science communication and enhancing connections with nature.

Participants’ relationship with Earthwatch continues beyond Science Camp. Our alumni belong to a network that offers peer-to-peer learning and support, and further opportunities to continue their skills development.

At this camp, attendees heard from a mix of contributors with expertise in community engagement, citizen science and storytelling.

Several Science Camp alumni shared their career experiences since attending. Science communication experts including Dr Praveen Paul, co-founder of the annual global science festival ‘Pint of Science’, and Jack Marley, environment and energy editor at The Conversation UK also ran sessions. Earthwatch colleagues from our community citizen science programmes, FreshWater Watch and Tiny Forest, contributed their insights too.

Welcoming Omani environmental scientists

Our Science Camps have always been about bringing people with diverse backgrounds together to share their unique perspectives and experiences. This year, we were thrilled to welcome six Omani scientists, alongside six UK based participants and other international scientists from Malawi and Iraq.

The support of the British Omani Society and new partnerships with institutions in Oman made this possible. An international group promotes sharing of knowledge across borders, development of language and confidence, and growth of international networks. It enables participants to explore environmental career paths and opportunities in different contexts across the globe.

We tailored the curriculum for our Omani scientists. For example, exploring key environmental challenges facing the world today that are important for Oman such as climate change adaptation, nature-based solutions, and water management.   

Having Omani participants at this Science Camp has shown us that the key themes of community engagement, science communication, and using citizen science as a research tool is relevant to anyone, wherever they live.

Stories from Science Camp

Meet some of the May Science Camp’s contributors and participants.

“We’ve got people from different religious backgrounds, different cultural backgrounds, positioned differently in society. So we have to build and craft a space in which we can learn from one another, exchange from one another. Creating that safe space with storytelling and getting people to relate, that’s what I do and I love doing it. I always learn new stories.”

Erinma Ochu, contributor and Wallscourt Associate Professor of Immersive Media in the School of Art at UWE Bristol and a member of the Digital Cultures Research Centre

“As a result of attending last year, I’ve got my first official paid job in wildlife conservation. Coming to the camp and getting the opportunity to engage with people in a similar position to me, or to inspire me to do better. Helps me push on that little bit longer in order to now be able to contribute in a better way to protecting the planet.”

Thomas Adjetey, contributor and alumni from March 2023 Science Camp

This week was an incredible opportunity to re-imagine research through an equity and community lens, focusing on finding innovative solutions to environmental challenges. Engaging with brilliant minds from various countries and diverse backgrounds enriched the experience even further.

The insights and connections gained during this camp will undoubtedly shape my approach to research and collaboration in the future. Thank you Earthwatch Europe for this enriching experience and looking forward to applying what I’ve learned to make a positive impact.”

Purnima Acharya, participant

“The Science Camp has been incredibly useful for me. I learned a lot. I’ve now, since [attending the previous Science Camp] been able to secure a job that aligns more with my values, using community organising principles and citizen science. So, I think it supported me in getting the job and role that I’m in now, but also improving my confidence around talking about these things and being able to come back and present about some of the community work that I do.”

Adetola Stephanie Onamade, contributor and alumni from September 2023 Science Camp

“The atmosphere at the Science Camp has been super positive. Everyone’s very supportive and open for understanding. Everyone’s asking questions, trying to understand where you’re from with your research, but also like your culture, where you’re from. I’ve been so engaged and enthusiastic in the last few days. It’s motivated me that wherever I go after finishing the PhD, I really want to incorporate a more community angle into the research that I hope I end up doing.”

Liz Flint, participant

“I’m from Oman. I feel welcome to participate in this Science Camp. The friendly environment can encourage people to share their knowledge, to speak out to each other, and build a relationship with them.”

Mohammed Al Saidi, participant

“I’m basically adding more knowledge, and I’m using this knowledge to teach my students on how they can leverage co-creation, citizen science and power analysis in their studies.”

Dr Emmanuel Zuza, 2019 Science Camp alumni and Lecturer in Environmental Management at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester

“It will be very important to the Oman people [that they] can participate in [Science] Camp so we can help Oman to become a good place, because it deserves to be a good place for the next generation.”

Shadha Al Ghafri, participant

Are you an early career environmental scientist interested in using community engagement in your research? Apply to join our next Science Camp in September!

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