By Sarita Albagli of IBICT
Ciência Aberta Ubatuba organised its first local meeting on April 10th. The objective of the gathering was to introduce goals and plans of the project coordinated by IBICT, with the support of OCSDNet and IDRC, to a group of potential stakeholders – representatives from research organisations, nonprofits, schools and the public sector, as well as independent researchers and other interested parties. The meeting was set in Jardim Cultural, a cultural venue and music club facing the sea close to the city centre.
Ubatuba is located in the northern coast of São Paulo State, in Brazil. Most of its territory and maritime surroundings are composed of preservation areas. The city hosts a significant amount of scientific research – obviously in areas such as oceanography but also agriculture and social sciences. On the other hand, the fact that there are no universities located in the city creates a gap between scientific research, education and society at large. One of the main concerns of Ciência Aberta Ubatuba is finding and discussing ways to bridge the gap between science and alternatives for local development.
The meeting was attended by 25 people, all of them living and working in Ubatuba. Another eight invitees have shown interest in the project but couldn’t make it for the meeting. Almost half of the participants in the meeting are related to public departments (local authorities on Environment, IT, Culture and Tourism), institutions and research agencies (State Park and Reserves, Fishing and Forest Institutes, public technical schools). A smaller proportion – a fifth of them – were representing nonprofits. There were also private companies and autonomous researchers. At least ten guests are directly involved with scientific research.
The morning started with a brief presentation of the project, by research team members Sarita Albagli, Felipe Fonseca and Henrique Parra. It was followed by a debate on open science possibilities and practices led by Alexandre Abdo, and then evolved into a collective discussion on the relevance of such possibilities to the local context. Participants have shown support and enthusiasm with Ciência Aberta Ubatuba, stressing the importance of opening and making visible existing scientific data about Ubatuba, and also promoting the dialogue between scientists and other local social groups. Most of them agreed to be subscribed to an email discussion group in order to articulate the coming steps of the project. Plans were also presented for Tropixel Ciência Aberta, a local event being organised as part of the Atlantic Forest Festival event next June. Tropixel Ciência Aberta will feature: (a) a one-day seminar with panels and presentations, (b) open hardware workshops for public school students and (c) the local instance of the international Mozilla Science Global Sprint.
The organisers expected to end the first meeting having established a working group in a more formal fashion, but decided afterwards to focus on basing the relationship on a wider and more organic network. Working groups can be dynamically formed from parts of the network to develop specific actions. Monitoring and documenting the dynamics of the network, working groups and activities are key parts of the Project. See the collaborative “aide memoire” of the meeting on https://pad.okfn.org/p/Ci%C3%AAncia_Aberta_Ubatuba_Abril_2015 . Also a wiki, a blog, a mailing list and a social network page of the project have been established.