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  • Sarah de Rijcke

Dive in with us - Open Panel on Ocean Science at 4S


This year's 4S Annual Meeting is held in New Orleans from 4 - 7 September 2019. As part of the conference, I am co-organising an Open Panel with Alice Vadrot of the University of Vienna on Exploring Policies and Practices of Studying and Monitoring the Oceans: Innovations and Interruptions in Ocean Science.


Healthy oceans contribute significantly to combating climate change. However, a lack of ocean scientific knowledge continues to challenge efforts to protect ocean ecosystems. This gap is steadily closed by global initiatives like the International Census of Marine Life programme. Furthermore, detection methods, observing infrastructures and data management have significantly improved over the past two decades, reconfiguring how oceans are studied and monitored.

In many respects, the study and monitoring of the oceans represents a new form of knowledge production. Challenges include producing systemic insights into ocean ecology; working toward industrial-scale production of innovations; providing scientific data to support environmental policy; and operating against the backdrop of a highly research-focused academic system. These developments are amplified by data scarcity, complicating the command of funding and shaping policies and practices of studying, monitoring and protecting the oceans.

This panel invites contributions on the socio-technical, epistemic, (geo)political, historical and ethical dimension of these developments, including case studies related to global and national policies and practices of ocean science and monitoring. Which dynamics occur when ocean science becomes (even more) subject to multiple valuation registers, including those associated with steering efforts toward more interdisciplinary engagement, societal relevance and demands from policy-makers? How do monitoring policies and practices contribute to the scientific representation of the ocean and its manifestation as a site, where different technological innovations compete for scientific legitimacy and marketability? What are key innovations in ocean science and marine technology and how do they shape the policies and practices of the field?

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This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 805550.