IMLA 40 Years: Maritime Education for Sustainable Shipping

The year 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the International Maritime Lecturers Association (IMLA) – 40 years since IMLA's first major conference was held and the IMLA Constitution was approved. In celebration of the 40th anniversary, IMLA hosted a virtual forum on 8 December with the theme IMLA 40 YEARS: Maritime Education for Sustainable Shipping. Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of the World Maritime University (WMU), was guest of honor at the milestone event. 

The forum reviewed the development of the Association in a changing world over the last 40 years, taking into account perspectives about how maritime education could transform to support sustainable shipping, and focusing on the role of IMLA in the decades to come. 

In her remarks, Dr Doumbia-Henry noted the significance of marking the IMLA 40th anniversary under the theme of “Maritime Education for Sustainable Shipping” by coming together in an online forum. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all areas of the maritime world and underscores the need for resilience in maritime education. “Maritime education and training must have the capability to continue with minimal interruption in times of crisis but, at the same time, anticipate, recognize and respond with agility to the unprecedented rapid changes in technology, environment and regulatory measures among other drivers influencing the maritime industry today,” she said.

Dr Doumbia-Henry maintained that being a resilient educational institution goes well beyond responding to disruptions and returning to life as we knew it once the COVID-19 crisis has passed. “Resilience that contributes to sustainable maritime education entails reflecting on and learning from challenges and problems to emerge stronger, more innovative and resourceful, having developed new capabilities and created new opportunities and strategic directions,” she said. Expanding modalities through the use of technology-mediated education and training, as well as interrogation of how we educate to equip and empower future stewards of sustainable maritime development were also key points she put forth.

Importantly, Dr Doumbia-Henry emphasized that sustainable maritime development requires a sustainability mindset at all levels of the maritime industry, from top level decision makers to individual seafarers working on board ships. She highlighted that all stakeholders have a role to play, and that maritime education and training is optimally placed to reach professionals in all parts of the integrated maritime system, “to affect a paradigm shift toward a global consciousness for a sustainable planet. Transformative education is needed to empower future maritime professionals to be agents of change in critical sustainability areas such as responsible and sustainable use of oceans, gender equality, and supporting seafarers’ mental health and well-being. For this to happen, maritime lecturers at all levels have to themselves be engaged in the necessary transformative processes, to be themselves mentors and agents of change,” she said.

IMLA promotes contact and cooperation between Maritime Lecturers of all disciplines together with its three Special Interest Groups - International Navigation Simulator Lecturers Conference (INSLC), International Maritime English Conference (IMEC), and International Conference on Engine Room Simulators (ICERS),  - and has made a major contribution to the world of maritime education and training over the last 40 years. 

Recordings of the webinar can be found at:

Session 1: https://youtu.be/9qN6P9UXYsw  (Addresses including IMO Secretary-General and President Doumbia-Henry)

Session 2: https://youtu.be/Fdh03bF-Pdk

Session 3:https://youtu.be/st5edG--jEg

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