In order to support and publicise the MAR-ECO Project and activities, the Project Steering Group has established a Public Outreach (PO) Steering Group. The PO programme will be responsible for disseminating and popularising information about MAR-ECO activities. The following is a brief presentation of this Public Outreach team and some of their goals for the planning period.
The PO group is co-chaired by the Information Department leaders at the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) and the University of Bergen (UiB). These are, respectively, Jo Høyer and Morten Steffensen. Both men have extensive experience in Public Outreach activities.
Høyer is currently Head of Information at IMR. He has previously been involved in various teaching, journalist and information leader roles at UiB, the University Hospital of Haukeland and the University of Tromso. Høyer spoke of the PO group's role in stimulating curiosity in both the public and scientific arena. He would like to develop a programme that taps into people's fundamental thirst for knowledge, in this case, about the sea.
Steffensen was working as a communications co-ordinator for the Norwegian Research Council before he took over as Director of Information at UiB. He also has research and teaching experience at UiB. Steffensen underlined the opportunity MAR-ECO has to stimulate international co-operation. There will be at least 14 countries collaborating in the MAR-ECO Project. According to Steffensen, the Projects PO initiatives have tremendous potential for contributing to the general public's understanding of marine science.
In Bergen, Høyer and Steffensen will be assisted by Elinor Bartle, who will be working part-time for MAR-ECO in the role of co-ordinator and contact person. Bartle has a background in science and has previously been involved in teaching, journalism and Public Outreach. She has also lived and worked in a number of different countries. She is enthusiastic about the challenges within MAR-ECO inherent in establishing an efficient and broad-reaching communications network, which will encourage and promote public outreach in the participating countries.