What is ‘GOES’?
It started with the following sentence: “It would be really cool to create a research institute from scratch”.
But what does ‘building from scratch’ really mean?
Recruit highly motivated people after their first year of studies who would have to commit to 4 months of intensive training per year while doing their degrees, attend conferences, write articles and become involved in community events. Students would be trained during the summer holiday times.
During the first summer they would visit 1-2 institutes in the UK.
The following year they would be placed in other countries.
In their third year they would be placed in a developing country in a remote area. We would circulate the students around the world by making sure that at 1 institute we had at least 2 students who would work together to create a ‘report’ of their experiences.
After these 3 years of gaining an insight to how institutes work all our students would sit down and put together ‘The Plan’. We would be looking for a piece of land in a developing country where we can build our self-sustainable institute.
4 divisions of HQ:
The agricultural section would work on sustainable agriculture methods and teach small farm holders how to increase their yield and diagnose plant diseases. At harvest the staff and the surrounding community would be given an equal share of food.
The second section would enable scientists to work with fishermen from the surrounding communities to test different aquaculture/ mariculture practices.
The third division would be a conservation area what the staff manages and uses for field trials.
The fourth would be a kindergarten for children who live in the surrounding villages. Since communication is an absolute necessity in science, every scientist would have to commit to teach at least half an hour or more per week. If someone knows how to talk to a toddler they will have the skills to talk to politicians.
How would we chose our projects?
An experienced scientist told me that ‘you do not choose your PhD, it is the PhD that chooses you’. This means that a student might absolutely love to study how the brain of aphids (little buggers) reacts to a new delicious leaf scents meters away, there might not be too many positions advertised close by. Graduates apply for countless PhDs, different topics that were carefully selected by professors and negotiated with universities, funding bodies and how its impact factor is going to sprinkle fairy dust on them. Most of the times people in suits are the people who decide what scientists should research (for example, I would love to hear how the ‘What Pokémon can teach us about learning and literacy‘ project got its funding and got published in JSTOR…)
So how about allowing scientist to ‘go crazy’ and pitch their own ideas driven by their passion and imagination? What if GOES could have an independent funding system where scientists do not have to put on a size small lab coat to look smart&scientific and try to market and sell their ideas but allows scientist who want to experiment with sustainable food production? If someone is passionate to try an integrated system out with a reasonable budget: go for it!
98 year old Walter Munk, Einstein of Oceanography replied in an interview to what is the secret to his longevity?
It is so sad to see scientists who get pulled back by politics, funding, other scientists and become unmotivated by the disapproval of so many other people. Everyone keeps telling me that “you’re so young now, so enthusiastic… that will pass”. (You wanna bet?)
So I am imaging GOES, a place where hard-working and being ambitious is not a nerdy thing, where people can have houses next door to their labs, where being yourself is encouraged by your colleagues.I am imaging a place where I would love to work at.
The last point that is crucial to GOES is that to avoid the the fate of some institutes where people work their whole lives there, scientists would not be given a contract for more than 5 years. People sometimes just get stuck in their jobs because of convenience and the constant payslips but their frustration grows and the ‘magic’ that they experienced when they first started there fades away rather quickly.