Barcelona’s water of life: el agua de la vida!
Dr Geary travelled to Barcelona last month as part of an EU ‘Co-operation in Science and Technology’ initiative called the INTREPID training school. Here is her diary of the trip.
In the famous Catalan fairy story ‚‘The Water of Life‘, also known by its original name ‘El agua de la vida’, only the deliverance of the water of life, sourced from a magic spring in the hills, can save a family from being turned to stone by an evil giant. It is the daughter of the family who outsmarts the ogre and restores life with the water. The life of her own family, of her petrified neighbours and of her surroundings are all rejuvanated as the water she spills on the return from the mountain turns everything green and fecund and frees the people from the giant’s curse. That water is still seen as the very essence of Catalan life is clear throughout the urban fabric of its capital city.
Wedged between the Mediterranean Sea and the estuaries of the Llobregat and Besos rivers and with the Serra de Collserola mountain range as its backdrop, Barcelona is a water-centric city fiercely proud of its heritage. As the economic powerhouse of Catalonia, its historic wealth was built around its port, driving its shipping, mercantile, leather and textile industries. The evidence of that financial prowess – Barcelona’s architectural splendour – attracts millions of tourists every year. Power, water, wealth have historically connected together to forge a city of almost 2 million residents; whose population rises threefold every year with almost 6 million visitors per annum.
As one of those 6 million visitors I travelled to Barcelona in early February this year as part of an EU ‘Co-operation in Science and Technology’ initiative called the INTREPID training school. My fellow Sustainable Futures researchers and I were collaborating to work together in a four day workshop, sharing experiences and learning together how interdisciplinary collaboration is at the heart of undertaking sustainability research. Working across disciplines – we were a disparate group of ecologists, urban planners, civil engineers, environmental lawyers, social scientists amongst others –we discussed how it is possible to try to make connections amidst and outside of our own scientific perspectives to find holistic pragmatic solutions to urgent, real world problems. As a Research Fellow based in SET, understanding how communities understand, articulate and action changes in their local water environments is crucial. It helps me contextualise how macro influences are interpreted and responded to, and what steps and strategies policy makers and governance bodies need to undertake to make sustainability science comprehensible and relevant. Continue reading
A University of Brighton graduate is launching a charity to help international and ethnic students realise their academic dreams.
Dr Oladapo Akinlotan was brought up in slums in Nigeria and after years of financial hardship he finally achieved his goal of being awarded a Doctor of Philosophy.
He now wants to share his journey “to inspire overseas students facing financial challenges in the UK and worldwide”.
Dr Akinlotan said: “To achieve this I want to set up a charity to help inspire and motivate people from less privileged backgrounds so they can achieve their dreams, no matter what the challenges.
“I want to visit high schools, colleges and universities in deprived areas across the UK and encourage the younger generation to follow their dreams even in the midst of challenges.”His charity, he said, would provide financial assistance to those “whose dreams are threatened” by lack of funds, and he will be looking to organisations and individuals to back him with donations.
Dr Akinlotan, whose PhD was awarded at the university’s Winter Graduation last month (Feb) for his work on sedimentary geology in South East England, said he hoped also to inspire the next generation of geologists and geoscientists as a lecturer.
He praised the university: “It deserves huge credit for this success story particularly the international office and the School of Environment and Technology for providing financial assistance. By giving me one of the Doctoral College’s four International Research Scholarship slots in that year the university has made world class education accessible to aspiring oversea students like me who desperately need financial support to achieve their goals.
“The scholarship paid 50 per cent of my tuition for three years while the School paid the tuition for the fourth year.”