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2020 Training Programme:
What to Expect

What does the course cover?

Generally speaking, the training programme will challenge you to step out of your field of specialisation and expose you to key issues in ocean governance through an interdisciplinary approach. The 2020 modules are likely to range from Ocean Sciences and Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management, to Law of the Sea and Principled Ocean Governance. To get a good sense of what to expect, check out the details from the 2019 course including syllabus and brief lecture outlines, when provided as the 2020 programme should be quite similar.

Who are the lecturers?

Lectures and presentations are given by up to 100 specialists from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds, and include academics, policy-makers and practitioners. See the list of 2019 speakers. Most are based in Canada, but many have extensive international experience, and some experts from other countries are brought in to enrich the perspectives and discussion.

How heavy is the workload?

The course is very intensive, with a lot of material to cover in a relatively short time. Classes are held from Monday to Friday, with a normal day expected to run from 9.00 to around 4.30, with an hour and a half for lunch. Attendance is required at all sessions. You should also be prepared for some evening and weekend work, as well as field trips. All participants are expected to play an active role in class and do the required preparations and assignments, so you should only apply if you are keen to work hard for two months!

What about readings or assignments?

Once selected, participants should begin by consulting the Course Documents section of this website, which includes links to both the course reader and a number of useful materials which you are encouraged to review before arriving in Halifax. (Please note that this will be updated nearer the time.) Individual lecturers will also assign background readings and/or assignments during the training programme, and there is a course-long simulation, as well as some shorter exercises.  These will involve preparation, reading and/or group work out of class hours. In addition, all participants are asked to prepare a 20 minute case-study before they arrive, to present at some point during the programme. 

Should I start arranging my own travel as soon as I am accepted?

No, please discuss travel options with us BEFORE you make any arrangements! In most cases travel is arranged by either IOI or your funding organisation, and you will be expected to arrive and leave on specific dates just before and after the course. Please note that this year we require all airline tickets to have robust cancellation and interruption insurance which would enable participants to change their travel plans in the (hopefully unlikely!) event of e.g. illness, quarantine, travel bans, course cancellation/curtailment.

What about visas?

Participants are responsible for getting a Canadian visa or eTA, and have to cover the costs associated with this (application fee, cost of travel to Embassy/High Commission/Visa Application Centre etc.). Regulations have recently changed and in most cases applicants are also required to provide biometrics (fingerprints, photographs) in person at e.g. a VAC.  Please ensure you get accurate and up-to-date information from the relevant High Commission/Embassy and visa section of the official Canadian Immigration and Citizenship website (www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/index.asp), as the requirements vary from year to year, and from country to country. New VACs were due to open in late 2019 so your closest centre may not be the same as in previous years.

It is very important that you start this application process as soon as you have been offered a confirmed place on the programme, as the process can take weeks or even months in some cases. You are also responsible for any transit visas, so check carefully what is required and how long the application will take.  And don't forget that you will be without a passport while your visa is being processed so do not make any international travel plans in the run-up to the training programme! 

Will I be met at the airport? What if it is late at night?

A driver will be sent to collect you from the airport and deliver you to the residence, regardless of the time of day or night.  Your room is available from two nights before the course begins, so arriving late on either of those nights is not a problem.

What accommodation is provided?

Accommodation is arranged by IOI-Canada, with participants living together in a student residence close to the classroom, libraries and computer facilities. We can accommodate you from two nights before the start of the course, and you may stay for up to two nights after the final class.  Any accommodation outside those dates is the responsibility of the participant.

Within the student residence, you will have your own bedroom in a flat shared with two or three other participants of the same sex.  Bathroom and kitchen facilities are shared, and the residence has a laundry room and a communal lounge with television on each floor. Note that this is student accommodation so don't expect a fancy, luxurious hotel -- consider it a nostalgic return to student lifestyle!

If a field trip involves an overnight stay, accommodation will be arranged for you. It is possible you might have to share a room with someone of the same sex for the field trip, but if so, you would be given plenty of notice and be consulted on your choice of room-mate.

Will I need to bring any household stuff?

The residence is fully furnished, and your room will have a bed with bedding, desk, chair, wardrobe etc. plus wifi. You will be provided with clean sheets and towels on a weekly basis, and will have access to coin/card-operated washing machines and dryers plus iron and ironing board for your personal laundry. The communal kitchens will be equipped with applicances, utensils and crockery. 

What about meals?

Some group meals plus class coffee breaks will be provided but you will be responsible for preparing many of your own meals at the residence, using the stipend for buying food. This may be a learning experience for those who are not used to cooking for themselves, but it is a very valuable life skill to acquire! Some participants also enjoy sharing meal preparations with their classmates and learning about other national dishes. Be warned that you will all be expected to clean up after yourselves -- another useful life skill!

What about money?

Participants are expected to continue to receive their normal salary. A modest but adequate allowance is provided to cover your essential living expenses during the programme, e.g. groceries, toiletries as well as minor course-related expenses such as photocopying, printing, stationery etc. It is not intended to cover such things as eating out, international telephone calls, souvenirs and presents, clothes, etc. so you would have to bring your own funds for such items. Again, it may be helpful to consider it a two-month return to a basic student lifestyle!

What clothing should I bring?

Classroom dress is informal, although you may want something more formal for occasions such as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and the course photograph. You may well find it cool, or even cold. Temperatures vary a lot, but will probably be between 10 and 25 degrees, so bring some warm clothing. Comfortable shoes are very important, as some field trips involve quite a bit of walking. And given that Halifax is a coastal city and can be wet, you should bring a raincoat and umbrella.

What else?

One of the most important things to bring is an openness to new experiences. You will be studying and living with people from a very wide range of countries and backgrounds, and will need to be tolerant of different attitudes, values, religions and behaviour. The Canadian weather, lifestyle and food will also almost certainly be different from at home, so be prepared to adapt to them. Things won't necessarily be done the way you're used to, and you may be expected to do things you aren't accustomed to. Perhaps you're used to having a driver, and will need to adjust to having to walk to places. Maybe you're not usually expected to make coffee or tea for others, or to cook for yourself, but will have to take your turn in the classroom refreshments rota, as well as preparing many of your own meals. Possibly you're from a culture where men typically dominate the discussion and decision-making, and will have to adjust to female and male participants being treated as equals. This may well mean moving beyond your personal comfort zone, but will be an important and very valuable aspect of your two months in Canada.

What about after the course?

As noted on the application form, all participants are expected to use and share their new knowledge and skills on their return home. During the course, you will be asked to identify relevant ways you can do this, and some months after you have returned, you will be expected to provide written follow-up demonstrating what activities you have engaged in. You will also be encouraged to stay in contact with your classmates and get involved in any local alumni activities.

And if I have other questions?

You will be sent more information nearer the time, and when you arrive you will be provided with a booklet of information with answers to many of the questions you might have. The Course Co-ordinator will hold an initial information session when the participants have all arrived, and will be available to help you settle in. Obviously the internet is also a great source of answers to general questions you might have, whether about Halifax or Dalhousie University. For those visiting a different culture for the first time, some of the University's helpful hints on Living Across Cultures might be of interest. But if you have any pressing questions that remain unanswered, feel free to contact the IOI office at ioi@dal.ca.


Last updated: 25th June 2020