News Release

REF NO.: 2

SUBJECT: Cold, wet and world class: Memorial University's COASTS initiative builds on unique strengths

DATE: September 2, 2016

The inclement weather in this province may be infamous, but perhaps we should be bragging about it rather than apologizing.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s climate and geography are uniquely challenging, and as activity in the North and Arctic increases, our collective experience of surviving and thriving here becomes more and more valuable. A new initiative at Memorial is building on that expertise to help position the province as a world leader in all things cold and wet.

The Cold Ocean and Arctic, Science, Technology and Society initiative, otherwise known as COASTS, seeks to co-ordinate existing strengths to extend Memorial’s profile and create opportunities for both Memorial and Newfoundland and Labrador in general.

“COASTS is about doing a better job of understanding, supporting and communicating the northern work taking place at Memorial,” said Rob Greenwood, executive director, Public Engagement, and lead on the COASTS initiative. “We’ve got world-leading researchers doing amazing things in their subject areas, from science and medicine, to social work and culture, but there hasn’t always been a lot of communication across disciplines.

“By understanding the full range of our institutional strength in these areas, and by working together whenever possible, we can increase our visibility, expand our networks and also help support the sustainability of our economy, culture, and communities.”

The initiative got its start in 2014 with the establishment of steering and advisory committees representing a broad range of faculties and units. From there, Memorial students, faculty and staff attended dozens of meetings, contributing to the development of a visioning workshop in September 2015, where stakeholders from across Memorial shared their ideas, concerns and suggestions related to the initiative. This sort of integration of perspectives is a hallmark of the initiative.

Dr. Greenwood says the interdisciplinary aspect of COASTS is also one of its greatest strengths.

“There are other universities with great work in one or another areas related to COASTS; however, no one else can offer the breadth of expertise across the board as Memorial can,” he said. “We’re not just looking at a small part of the pie: we’re able to offer a holistic perspective that includes not only the technological understanding of the Marine Institute or C-CORE or the groundbreaking discoveries of the Department of Ocean Sciences, but also the industry partnerships of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and the publicly engaged, community-level collaboration that you see in disciplines such as the social sciences and medicine.”

Based on the extensive internal consultations and on discussions with a range of external organizations and stakeholders, an action plan containing four distinct goals, 12 objectives and a growing number of key COASTS-related initiatives has been developed to provide both a guide for the future and a yardstick by which to measure the impact of the initiative. The four goals include doing more COASTS-related work; connecting with external partners to work together; building the ability for Memorial to collaborate across disciplines on COASTS-related projects; and, to share the stories of our COASTS expertise.

According to Dr. Greenwood, COASTS has already proven an effective tool both internally and externally. He says through conversations with people across the university, connections have already been made between Memorial projects and researchers with common or complementary goals, leading to partnerships and collaborations.

“We’ve also been able to approach external groups, including federal departments, national organizations and industry to share Memorial’s broad range of expertise and facilities, leading to a number of new opportunities for partnerships, funding and increased profile for Memorial and Newfoundland and Labrador.”

The COASTS action plan can be viewed here.

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