Turning teams into a crew!

Sicherheitstraining (KUS-Projekt)
Safety training (KUS Project)

We’re no stranger to building strong international teams at FAU. But how does this differ from bringing together a cohesive crew for a voyage of scientific discovery?

Simply defined, a team is a group of people with the complementary skills or characteristics required to achieve a common goal. The timeframe can be short or long. The degree of formality goes from the very loose, such as an online community forum, to very tight, such as a major corporation.

These days, teams can be more internationally diverse than was ever before possible. Developments in communication technology among other things have made it easier than ever, even for relatively loose partnerships of virtual teams to collaborate with each other, sometimes as if everyone is together in the same room.

Research supports that training and experience-based learning outdoors can have a positive effect on concept development, team skills and leadership skills among participants. So, while spending time with fellow researchers from related fields of study is a key priority of Science Sets Sail, participants will also share cooking and cleaning tasks and are expected to join in sailing manoeuvres. In short, nine teams will become three crews!

Science holds a special role on every ‘crew’

Since mankind‘s first voyages of discovery beyond the borders of our known world – in this century as before – scientific research has always held a special role on a ship‘s crew. It’s the job of our scientists to continue to push these boundaries today.

You could argue that for these crews a command-based leadership structure minimises risks in a potentially-dangerous, unknown environment. So, when it comes to the ship, the Captain is the boss!

Living and working at close quarters – day in, day out – requires the qualities of patience and endurance. Under such conditions, earning the trust of your crew mates takes on a whole new dimension!

The Science Sets Sail crews

Science Sets Sail underscores the innovative nature of FAU’s active research networks around the world. In particular, it is aimed at expanding cooperation with Baltic Sea countries such as Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Estonia and Poland. Nine diverse teams of participating scientists will promote their scientific work in moderated discussion sessions, presentations and other exchange formats, and in doing so generate joint projects on socially-important issues.

Each FAU team is committing not only scientific time but also contributing financially to the project:

Leg 1: Kiel – Malmö – Riga (Saturday 15 July to Monday 24 July)

  • Institute for Factory Automation and Production Systems (FAPS)
  • Centre for Human Rights Erlangen-Nürnberg (CHREN)
  • GeoCentre North Bavaria (GZN)

Leg 2: Riga – Helsinki – Tallinn (Monday 24 July to Tuesday 1 August)

  • Graduate School of Advanced Optical Technologies (SAOT)
  • Erlangen Nürnberg Excellence Track – Leistungszentrum Elektroniksysteme (ENETLZE)
  • The Chair of Economics – Discrete Optimization – Mathematics (EDOM)

Leg 3: Tallinn – Danzig – Rostock (Wednesday 2 August to Friday 11 August)

  • Cluster of Excellence – Engineering of Advanced Materials (EAM)
  • Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy
  • Collaborative Research Centre 1181 – Checkpoints for Resolution of Inflammation.


In addition, each ‘crew’ will also undertake all the necessary tasks on board, from sailing the ship to swabbing the deck! Perhaps surprisingly, this will make them better scientists, according to Prof. Dr. Thomas Eberle, who holds the FAU Chair for School Pedagogy, especially secondary school education:

Experiencing and coping with challenges, as well as sharing unusual experiences, can contribute to a very special team atmosphere that has a profound effect on scientific cooperation.

Prof. Dr. Eberle is also scientifically responsible for another FAU project ‘KUS – Classroom under Sail’, which has been associated with the sailing ship Thor Heyerdahl since 2008. Each year, KUS offers young people – for six months – an innovative space for living, experience and learning in which they can develop their personality. In fact, both the spirit of exploration and repeated positive experiences among the hundreds of KUS participants inspired Science Sets Sail.

You can find out more about each team here. In coming posts, we look forward to introducing individual crew members!