History of the Program
In 2012, the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina completed its 50 years of existence. During this period, UFSC has consolidated as an important center of production and transmission of knowledge, having reached a level of excellence in several areas of knowledge. Particularly in the field of Ocean Sciences, over the last ten years there has been a growing increase in the establishment of laboratories and research groups related to the area. Nevertheless, when it comes to the production and transmission of knowledge about the marine environment, although there are individual researchers of great visibility, UFSC is still seeking, as an institution, to reach an outstanding position in the national scene. This fact contrasts with two important aspects:
• The natural maritime vocation of the state of Santa Catarina, which contains an extensive and indented coastline where the major part of the population lives and where important economic activities are developed.
• The existence of several lines of research pertaining to distinct graduate programs at the University (Geography, Environmental Engineering, Chemistry, Ecology, just to name a few) which have been acting historically isolated in areas concerning the marine environment.
Members of the University directly or indirectly involved with teaching, research and extension in Ocean Sciences realized the need to offer the opportunity, for those interested in pursuing graduate studies, to focus on the study, handling and management of the components, processes and resources of the marine environment and its transitional areas. That was the main motivation for creating the Graduate Program in Oceanography.
The recognition of the importance of the Sea and its coastal zone for the society of Santa Catarina is revealed, among other ways, in a great number of academic papers developed in various departments at UFSC. In this sense, the institution has a critical mass working in Oceanography, but this mass lies pulverized in different academic unities, what hampers its integration. Besides, among the major areas of knowledge, the Earth Sciences (to which Oceanography traditionally belongs) is the one with the greatest lack in terms of Graduate Programs offered at UFSC.
Seeking to reverse this situation, two historical efforts for integrating researchers dedicated to the Ocean Sciences and Oceanography should be pointed out:
The first effort relates to the activities developed between 2003 and 2005 by a group named “MARUFSC” that spontaneously integrated a set of academic and administrative staff from UFSC working in sea-related subjects. The main objective of MARUFSC was to create institutional channels to facilitate the integration and dissemination of information about the coastal zone and the marine environment inside UFSC. The MARUFSC integrated around 50 professors and administrative staff and promoted workshops in which UFSC’s professors involved in sea-related subjects had the opportunity to exchange experiences and disseminate their research.
The second, which was, to a certain extent, enabled by the aforementioned group, was the creation of the Bachelor’s degree in Oceanography at UFSC, which started in March 2008 and had its first graduation in the second semester of 2012. It is worth mentioning that nearly half of the graduates entered graduate programs outside of Santa Catarina, for there were no existing master’s degree programs in this area in the State at the time.
Throughout the implantation of the undergraduate program in Oceanography, over the last five years, new professors were hired to work in the areas of Physical Oceanography (2), Chemistry (3), Biology (4), Geology (2) and Coastal Management (1), making it possible to create a solid faculty working exclusively in the area of Oceanography. Naturally, those professors aim to develop academic supervision at the graduate level, creating opportunities for training and consolidating their teams of investigation.
Considering the inexistence of an academic unit specifically focused on Oceanography at UFSC, over the last years, the Department of Geosciences gathered professors who work with the abiotic aspects of Oceanography, qualifying itself to host the creation of the new program. The Department has contributed to building the faculty of the new Graduate Program with nine professors – six of which are working or have worked with the line of research “Coastal Oceanography and Marine Geology” from UFSC’s Graduate Program in Oceanography . Moreover, the Department has led the submission and approval of three projects of infrastructure (CT – Infra) related to the Ocean Sciences, besides participating in four calls of the National Institutes of Science and Technology Program (INCT) and in the Program of Marine Geology and Geophysics.
Externally, the creation of a Graduate Program in Oceanography at UFSC, at this moment, is currently facilitated by government actions such as the Sectorial Plan for Sea Resources (Plano Setorial para os Recursos do Mar – PSRM) and the National Plan for Coastal Management (Plano Nacional de Gerenciamento Costeiro – PNGC). Both formally recognize the need for promoting the incorporation of sea resources within the Brazilian socioeconomic reality.
Successive PSRMs (Sectorial Plans for Sea Resources), the last one in force from 2012 to 2015, recognize that the Brazilian Institutions of Higher Education, Graduate Programs and lines of research dedicated to the Sea still fall short when it comes to promoting an integrated knowledge of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the Brazilian Legal Continental Shelf (Amazônia Azul).
In this sense, it was created in 2005 the PPGMar – Executive Committee for Consolidating and Amplifying Research Groups and Graduate Programs in Ocean Sciences, composed by representatives of the Academic Sector, of Ministries connected to the theme and of other government bodies.
The PSRM thus intend to support, consolidate and assess the training of staff in the field of Ocean Sciences, through undergraduate and graduate programs, creating a ground for developing such sciences.
Considering this context, in 2006, the Prorectorate for Undergraduate Studies created a commission composed by professors to elaborate the educational project of a program in the area of Ocean Sciences, grounded in the debate within the University community and with the external community, and that resulted in the creation of the Bachelor’s Degree Program in Oceanography.
The Prorectorate for Graduate Studies at UFSC took a similar initiative in 2012, when it designated a commission of professors with the aim of elaborating a proposal for creating a Graduate Program in Oceanography at UFSC, presented hereunder. The same Prorectorate, trying to qualify the proposal, supported the visit of the Coordinator of Geosciences of the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES) at UFSC in the end of 2012. In this event, several aspects of the project were put in discussion.
In February 2014, the CAPES Geosciences Committee approved the Master’s degree in Oceanography.
The program officially initiated in January 2015.