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History of GSS

T

he first Greek Summer School was an initiative of the Education Committee (EC) of the European Section of the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB-Europe), co-organized with the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources Management of the University of Ioannina (Greece) , and the Center of Biological and Cultural Diversity .  Dr. Renato Massa (University of Milano, Italy), the first chair of EC, had the initial idea of organizing a summer school on conservation biology for young scientists from all over Europe, in order to inspire them to discover the attractive and challenging world of conservation biology. The idea was unanimously voted with great enthusiasm by EC, but it could not be realized then due to lack of funds. The second chair of EC, Dr. Vassiliki Kati gave a great effort to overcome all problems and successfully organized the first SCB-GSS. Our dream became true! The first GSS was held in August 2008,  under the title “Introduction to Conservation Biology”. It was hosted in Papingo, a traditional village in the mountainous Vikos-Aoos national park of Greece, the ideal place for such an event.

The main sponsor that trusted our initiative and helped us to realize it was the Hellenic Ministry of Environment. The global Society for Conservation Biology offered to the selected students a grant of an annual membership to the Society and a subscription to Conservation Biology, a leading scientific journal in the field of conservation science.  Furthermore, local authorities including the Prefecture of Ioannina and the Municipality of Central Zagori  generously offered traditional lunches to the team. Students had to cover their travel expenses and their meals. Finally, the Center of Biological and Cultural Diversity, an NGO located in Papingo supported the event.

Many people worked for the event: Dr. V. Kati was the coordinator, B. Mihok (secretary of SCB-Europe) undertook administrative load, professors from Malta (A. Vella), Germany (M. Dieterich), Italy (R. Massa), UK (A. Ramsey, P. Gihlrist), Greece (V. Kati, G. Korakis) offered lectures and field sessions, whereas many young scientists from Greece joined the group to share their knowledge and support field sessions (H. Papaionnou, K. Zografou, K. Ntemiri, P. Gerofoka). All scientists involved were members of SCB-Europe, participating for free, in order to educate young people as conservation biologists. The event was advertised through the national focal points of the SCB-Europe, conservation websites and the SCB newsletter.

A nice group of 15 selected students from 10 European countries formed the first enthusiastic team of conservation biologists, gaining international experience, learning and having a wonderful time (photo gallery 2008 ). After the great success of the event, the Education Committee decided to organize it for a second year. Funded and supported by the same sponsors, the second SCB-GSS was held again in Papingo in October 2009. More people supported the group, in order to hold lectures and field sessions, such as Dr. M. Lazaridou (Aristotle University, Greece) and G. Yfantis. That year as well, we selected 15 students from 10 countries, reporting a great success of the second GSS and sharing an experience of lifetime.

But fundraising is difficult... especially in times of financial crisis. The Education Committee decided that the school should secure more permanent funding, and should attempt to cover a greater proportion of student expenses. Therefore, the coordinator successfully applied to the Greek State Scolarships Foundation IKY for an Erasmus Intensive Programme fund, in order to support the third GSS, in collaboration with four more professors from other European universities, all members of SCB-Europe. This time, Malta was replaced by Denmark. The summer school cannot be considered anymore as an SCB activity per se, but as a joint academic activity of five European Universities. It has the status of an Erasmus Intensive Programme, supported by the Greek State Scolarship Foundation IKY.

About the Society of Conservation Biology (SCB)

Education Committee of SCB-Europe gave birth to the GSS and is happy to see it growing and offering knowledge and pleasure to European students. The SCB is a global scientific organization of over 10 000 members. The society's membership comprises a wide range of professionals interested in nature conservation and the study of biological diversity: scientists, resource managers, educators, government and private conservation workers, and students.  If you think that nature conservation is the top priority for our society and that scientific evidence is needed for the conservation of biodiversity, to learn more about the activities of SCB in Europe, visit the  link  (http://www.conbio.org/sections/europe/), or even better the wikispace of SCB-students, a recent activity involving of course several ex-GSS students ...  (http://scb-students.wikispaces.com/). The Education Committee of SCB-Europe would love to further support GSS, attempting to save the appropriate funds for the forthcoming Erasmus IP schools (2011 and 2012, if successful), in order to open the event to students from more European countries, promoting further its international character. Wish us good luck!

 

 

 

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Important Dates

  •     09 January 2012: Registration opens
  •     15 March 2012: Registration closes
  •     15 April 2012: Announcement of participants
  •     24 June 2012: Arrival in Ioannina
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