As academic collaborations become increasingly virtual and geographically widespread, researchers are faced with novel challenges, as well as opportunities, as they attempt to create equitable, effective research partnerships. In this essay, the authors highlight the importance of shared reflexive conversations in building a strong foundation for collaboration and the coproduction of knowledge, particularly in the midst of ongoing crises. In so doing, they reflect on their experience of planning research on social innovation in small-scale fishing communities in Africa and Asia, as a team spread across six countries.
Sariaka Olmstead-Rakotondrazafy received a master’s in forestry, environment & development in 2014 from the University of Antananarivo in Madagascar (ESSA). Seeking to deepen her knowledge on oceans and the marine environment, she completed a master’s in marine and lacustrine science and management (Oceans and Lakes), an interuniversity program organized by the Faculty of Sciences of VUB (Free University of Brussels). Working for different governmental projects and NGOs on coastal zone management, climate change, community livelihood, management plan of fisheries, and Marine Protected Areas management with coastal communities in various regions of Madagascar since 2012, she has developed a particular interest on ocean governance, small-scale fisheries, and coastal communities. In 2018, Olmstead-Rakotondrazafy received an award from the United Nations and the Nippon Foundation of Japan Fellowship. As part of the fellowship, she worked on research focused on the Blue Economy and fisheries in Madagascar in collaboration with Saint Mary’s University in Canada. This inspired her to create Impacting Lives through Opportunities (SEILO) in 2020, a social enterprise that advocates for environmental protection and community empowerment.