Sabbatical in Queensland

Bill Dennison ·
1 February 2011
Learning Science | 

The word 'sabbatical' stems from the concept of the number seven, and it has been co-opted by academia to refer to a break that faculty take from their regular duties at roughly seven year intervals. In Australia, the term used is 'study leave', which is more descriptive and distinguishes it from long service leave or vacation. Sabbaticals are viewed as a way for faculty to rejuvenate careers, learn new techniques and approaches, and/or complete large projects (e.g., books). The host institution for the sabbatical typically provides office or laboratory support and the visiting faculty works with host institution staff and students for the duration of the sabbatical. The faculty member is then obligated to return to their home institution for at least a year, enriched and rejuvenated with the sabbatical experience.

Bill at IWC
Bill at the International Water Centre

The intent of my Queensland sabbatical is to develop some new initiatives for the Integration and Application Network in collaboration with several organizations based in Australia. My host institution is a consortium of Australian universities, the International Water Centre (IWC), based in downtown Brisbane, Australia's third largest city. In addition, the Healthy Waterways Partnership, also located in Brisbane, an organization charged with protecting and improving the waterways in SouthEast Queensland, is located near IWC and I have had a long association with this group and will be interacting with their staff. One initiative that the Integration and Application Network has been working on for the past six months is an environmental report card for the Great Barrier Reef. This effort involves a suite of institutions and agencies, but is spearheaded by the Queensland Department of the Premier and Cabinet, based in Brisbane. In addition to these organizations based in downtown Brisbane, the University of Queensland, located about 10 km upriver from downtown, is where I spent ten years (1992-2002), and I have many friends and colleagues, so I am planning on spending roughly one day per week there.

Some projects that I plan on working on are the following: developing online teaching modules, developing a report application for use in environmental report cards, writing a book with IWC education coordinator, Dr. Peter Oliver. In addition to these previously planned activities, the large scale flooding experienced by Queensland offers an opportunity to contribute to the effort to understand the impacts of flooding as well as provide better planning for the future.

While on sabbatical, my email will remain the same (dennison@umces.edu) and even my US phone will still work, albeit with the time difference (currently east coast US time +15 hours). In addition, I have an Australian mobile phone: 0467473732 (or +61467473732 if calling from overseas).

About the author

Bill Dennison

Dr. Bill Dennison is a Professor of Marine Science and Vice President for Science Application at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). Dr. Dennison’s primary mission within UMCES is to coordinate the Integration and Application Network.



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