Call for Abstracts: Sea Lines of Communication 2016

Theme: Discovery
Location: Hartley Suite, Highfield Campus, University of Southampton
Date: 17 November 2016
Abstract Submission Deadline (NOW EXTENDED): 13th May 2016

The Southampton Marine and Maritime Postgraduate Group (SMMPG) would like to invite abstracts for a multidisciplinary conference. SMMPG is a collaboration between the University of Southampton’s postgraduate academics, the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute (SMMI), and Lloyd’s Register. The group aims to encourage multidisciplinary  research by fostering discourse between many disciplines, from shipbuilding to archaeology and oceanography to literature.

The theme of the conference is Discovery, which is meant to be taken in a broad sense. As such, ideas for papers include (but are not limited to):

  • how do you rediscover centuries-old maritime history?
  • the discovery of new technologies to address current problems
  • new ways of improving mariners’ physical and mental health
  • how do new and novel technologies affect the interpretation of the law?
  • how does our understanding of maritime geography influence literature?
  • how do we adapt to the effects of global climate change?

The event builds on the highly successful conferences of the last two years, where papers from diverse disciplines were presented to audiences of scholars and professionals from various maritime fields; and published in a monograph of the day’s papers. As befits the theme of Discovery, we hope to engage researchers from many diverse fields to inspire a new approach to maritime research.

We are accepting abstracts from postgraduate and early-career researchers in any discipline, for papers which resonate with the theme of Discovery and relate to any four of the SMMI’s broad themes:

Society & Government ● Trade & Transport ● Energy & Resources ● Climate & Environment

Papers will each last 15 minutes and will be organised into four panels based on the categories above. Each panel will be introduced by an established academic and followed by a period of discussion. Additionally on the day we will be having poster presentations. Therefore, we will be accepting abstracts for these as well. While Discovery is the broad theme we have chosen to work within, the conference’s focus is firmly on the concept of multidisciplinary communication. The ultimate aim of the conference is to forge connections between academics with different fields of expertise as well as engage with the wider public, including representatives from business and industry. As such, the presentations should be delivered with the aim of communicating the paper’s central themes and proceedings will be published in a book, which aims to develop a set of tools that can be used to further multidisciplinary research and develop our understanding of the maritime world.

Please send your proposal (250-300 words) to by Friday 13th May, 2016. Abstracts should be formatted in a Word file and attached to the email. Please include your full name, the name of your university, and a brief bio. Themes are open to interpretation. Please indicate if your abstract is for a presentation or a poster. Please direct any questions to the conference organisers at the above email address.


‘Autonomous shipping and seafarer competency’ (Gordon Meadow)

This week’s talk was given by Gordon Meadow, who is a PhD researcher at the University of Southampton.

autonomous shipping and seafarer competency

His talk focused on the developing field of autonomous shipping. Gordon’s goal for his PhD is to develop and redefine the seafaring pedagogy to include autonomous shipping capabilities. Gordon took us through all of the viable options that are being tested for autonomous shipping in order to better understand the research he is conducting. According to Gordon, his research will be conducted on the basis of understanding competency requirements in order to inform future pedagogy, determining the impact, ways and extent to which shipping’s global pool of seafarers training needs would be affected.

The issues with autonomous shipping were discussed during the Question and Answer session. While other sectors are currently moving into more autonomous operations (such as planes and military equipment), none of the other sectors can compare to the sheer numbers seen in shipping. On top of the question of numbers, there is also the concern that not all countries can afford this type of upheaval in the shipping industry–how would autonomous shipping, therefore, be affected if only some ships are running autonomously?

Overall, Gordon’s talk was extremely informative, as many of those who attended did not realise that this type of technology exists. The conversation surrounding the negative (and positive) aspects of autonomous shipping gave us all a lot to think about!

‘Seventeenth century Maritime Trade Routes – as seen through a musical instrument maker in Malta’ (Anna Borg Cardona)

The talk yesterday was given by Anna Borg Cardona, who is a University of Southampton PhD researcher working out of Malta. She gave a very interesting presentation on 17th-century trade routes in Malta, as seen through the lens of instrument maker Mattheo Morales.

Morales was born in 1637 in Valletta, which was a new harbour city of the Maltese Islands. Valletta at the time was the seat of the Order of the Knights of Saint John and was therefore a busy hub port. Morales died without a will, which is lucky for Anna as an inventory of his goods was drawn up immediately after his death. The documentary evidence for Morales’ business life has survived well (with the exception of his account book that would show where he sold his instruments), which has allowed Anna to trace the materials he used for his instruments, as well as the investments he took part in with seafaring men who travelled far and wide across the Mediterranean. One

Conversation flowed easily with Anna and the session’s attendees. This project has many interesting elements to it, all of which were highlighted with the wide range of questions. We’re all keeping our fingers crossed that she finds Mattheo Morales’ missing account book!

Sustainable Development, Shipping and the IMO (Debo Awofeso)

This week, as the final official meeting of the academic year, Debo discussed with the group maritime shipping and the ramifications of this large industry. 90% of the world trade is carried by sea, which creates issues surrounding possible oil spills, dissemination of alien species and improperly disposed of scrap.

The definition of ‘sustainable development’ is a hard one to pin down. Three pillars have been defined as key to sustainable development: environment, society and economy. The IMO attempts to define and regulate sustainable development, but some believe they are more ‘talk’ than ‘action’. The IMO tries to base its decisions on the upholding of the three pillars, but with a connecting and paramount theme of safety running through all decisions. However, the shipping industry dominates the IMO and the IMO is therefore highly influenced by one industry’s needs.

Questions that Debo posed to us afterwards for consideration and discussion were: is the definition of sustainable development correct and does the IMO represent the three pillars? How might this change (or stay the same) when considering the fact that shipping is set to continue growing?