Ocean Blue Forests International Summer School | - CCMAR -

Ocean Blue Forests International Summer School

Monday, July 3, 2023 to Friday, July 14, 2023
Course Description 

The Ocean Blue Forests International Summer School (ISS) aims boosting blue growth through the education of Portuguese and Norwegian university students, with diverse academic backgrounds. Blue forests are key marine ecosystems for human well-being, yet they are underrepresented in education curricula and underappreciated in professional groups. The ISS seeks to improve professional skills and competencies in blue forests ecosystem benefits. By the end of the ISS, students will be able to apply the acquired knowledge into their professional contexts.

The educational contents of the ISS will cover the role of blue forests in the carbon cycle and how restoring these ecosystems can contribute to combat climate change and biodiversity loss. The program was created to provide a multidisciplinary approach, combining lectures, field trips, laboratory work, and outdoor and cultural activities. Students will have direct contact with multiple blue forests stakeholders in Portugal and Norway (scientists, NGOs, fishing communities, decision-makers, and media professionals). Experiential learning on the blue forests will be provided to the trainees while promoting direct contact with the local community, who is part of the undergoing Ocean Alive sustainability project “Keepers of the sea” (https://www.ocean-alive.org/en/keepers-of-the-sea). In addition, a digital platform will be available to support the program's contents about Blue Forests. 

During the ISS students will conduct autonomous work that contributes to their evaluation. They will be challenged to apply their understanding to their own fields of interest and motivation. Students will develop and present a framework model on how they would solve a problem affecting blue forests.

The summer school will be held in Setubal (Portugal) to take advantage of the blue forests of saltmarsh, seagrass and macroalgae of the Sado estuary and adjacent rocky shores of the Arrabida region. 


The ISS and the Digital Learning Platform about Blue Forests
A digital learning platform on Blue Forests will be developed by the team of the project. The educational contents of the platform correspond to the modules of the educational content of the ISS program.



The team of the Ocean Blue Forest ISS
The Ocean Blue Forests International Summer School is promoted by Ocean Alive, a Portuguese NGO dedicated to seagrass protection and engaging the local community. The educational program takes advantage of the complimentary expertise and experience of Portuguese and Norwegian project partners on blue forests: marine biologists from Ocean Alive and CCMAR/University of Algarve, with a strong background in blue forests research, education and environmental awareness, and members of the GRID-Arendal, a Norwegian non-profit environmental communications centre, with strong expertise in providing capacity-building services and science-based information products. Both Ocean Alive and CCMAR project partner teams will share their knowledge in person with the trainees. GRID- Arendal team will participate online. Apart from the project members, the program will be conducted by other scientists and NGOs, members of the local fishing communities and decision-makers, and media and cultural professionals.



Project funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants. Through the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA), Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are partners in the internal market with the Member States of the European Union. As a way of promoting a continuous and balanced strengthening of economic and trade relations, the parties to the EEA Agreement established a multi-annual Financial Mechanism, known as EEA Grants. EEA Grants aim to reduce social and economic disparities in Europe and strengthen bilateral relations between these three countries and beneficiary countries. For the period 2014-2021, a total contribution of €2.8 billion has been agreed to 15 beneficiary countries. Portugal will benefit from an amount of 102.7 million euros. Learn more at eeagrants.gov.pt




The educational program of the ISS uses a multidisciplinary approach, combining lectures, field and laboratory practical work with cultural activities (visit to the local fish market, traditional dance and cooking classes), sports (hiking, swimming snorkelling, kayaking and surfing), the contact with members of the local community and autonomous work.


Course Hours
The course will have a total of 78 hours, which will provide 3 ECTS. ECTS certification will be provided by the University where the student is registered.

  • 16 hours of lectures
  • 19.5 hours of practical work (including laboratory class and field trips)
  • 18.5 hours of autonomous work
  • 6.5 hours of reflection and evaluation
  • 17.5 hours of sports and cultural activities


What is included in the grant

  • Accommodation in Setubal from 3rd to 14th July at Pousada da Juventude.
  • Meals during the course. 
  • Transportation for the course activities.
  • Lectures, activities, equipment and program materials.

Autonomous work
Students will use their autonomous work time to individually develop a framework model. The framework model will demonstrate the ability of the student to identify a problem affecting the blue forests and how she/he relates that issue with her/his motivation/future career. In order to consolidate the construction and the presentation of the framework model, students will be asked to reflect on their own interests and motivations, will revise their ideas with their peers and with Ocean Alive and CCMAR team members and will learn communication skills and competencies.


The evaluation of each student will be based on (1) 8 evaluation questionnaires about the themes of the educational modules and (2) the presentation of a framework model. The presentation of this model will be evaluated through a 2 min pitch and a written project. The evaluation board is constituted of members of Ocean Alive and CCMAR. The evaluation of the questionnaires and of the framework models will be based on pre-defined evaluation criteria and a quantitative classification (0 to 5) will be applied. 


  • Age 18 or older
  • Bachelor's Student in Portuguese or in a Norwegian university
  • Have good English language proficiency
  • Ability to swim and be comfortable at the sea




Week 1:

Monday 3 July - Team building and welcome dinner
Tuesday 4 July - Course overview and visit to the Arrábida Mountain and beach
Wednesday 5 July - "Ocean Literacy Carbon Cycle and Climate Change" and Cultural Activity
Thursday 6 July - "Blue Forests: Seagrass meadows" and Snorkeling 
Friday 7 July - "Blue forests: ecosystem  benefits", visit to Setúbal food market and cooking class 
Saturday 8 July - "Blue Forests: Saltmarshes" and meeting with Fisherwomen Keepers of the Sea
Sunday 9 July - Surf and thoughts


Week 2:

Monday 10 July - Restoration of Blue Forests 
Tuesday 11 July - "Blue Forests: Kelp forests"
Wednesday 12 July - Assessing Blue carbon
Thursday 13 July - Project Day and  Team building
Friday 14 July - Departure day

Intended Audience 
Bachelor students studying in Portuguese or Norwegian universities.
Scientific Organisation 

Raquel Gaspar

Ocean Alive
PhD marine biologist, post-doc in science communication, co-founder of Ocean Alive. Raquel started her marine biology learning and professional expertise working with international NGOs and developing the Azorean (Portuguese Atlantic archipelago) whale-watching regulation. She has been working in the Sado estuary since 1993. She did her PhD research on the conservation of the bottlenose dolphin population living in the Sado estuary and also worked as technical staff of the Sado Estuary Natural Reserve. She did her post-doc research in science communication. She worked for 6 years as a marine...

Steven Lutz

Senior Programme Officer & Blue Carbon Lead, GRID-Arendal
Steven Lutz works to advance the concept of blue carbon through national demonstrations and international treaties. His projects at GRID-Arendal have included: the Abu Dhabi Blue Carbon Demonstration Project, a global first in national coastal blue carbon scaling and uptake; the Global Environment Facility’s Blue Forests Project, which piloted blue carbon on the voluntary carbon market and critically championed its recognition and uptake in international climate and biodiversity treaties; and the UAE Oceanic Blue Carbon project, the world’s first national science and policy assessment of...

Salomão Bandeira

Consultant, GRID-Arendal
Salomão Bandeira is an Associate Professor and & CITES Scientific Coordinator at Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique, and a former visiting professor at the University of Cape Verde and the University of Lisbon. He received his PhD in marine biology at Gothenburg University, Sweden. He was a post-doc researcher at Stockholm University. His research interests cover marine botany with a focus on seagrass and mangroves, biodiversity conservation, as well as ocean and coastal governance.

Accommodation in Setubal from 3rd to 14th July at Pousada da Juventude. Check-in will be on 3rd of July in the afternoon; check-out on the 14th of July in the morning.

Type of Training 
Advanced Training
Presentation Language