Ocean Literacy: How the Concept of What Everyone Should Know about the Ocean Changed the World

Sarah E Schoedinger


Ocean literacy is an understanding the ocean’s influence on you and your influence on the ocean. Building public understanding and acknowledgement of the importance of the ocean to our daily lives was a motivating factor for a geographically distributed group of US-based scientists, formal and informal educators, and policy influencers coming together in the early 2000s to address the absence of ocean science content in US science education standards and our elementary and secondary classrooms. This convening and several others that came after it became the cornerstone of the Ocean Literacy Campaign, resulting in a definition of ocean literacy and the articulation of seven essential principles and 45 fundamental concepts that an “ocean literate” person would know.  The definition, essential principles and fundamental concepts became the foundational pieces of the Ocean Literacy Framework, which now also comprises a scope and sequence for grades K-12 and an alignment to Next Generation Science Standards.

Despite the initial focus on K-12 education in the United States, this framework has been influential in ways never imagined by the initial leaders and participants of the campaign.  In this presentation, Sarah Schoedinger will discuss a brief history of the Ocean Literacy Campaign, focusing both on how the framework was developed as well as the intended and unintended consequences that resulted as it became a model for the development of numerous other literacy frameworks (some of which will be discussed later in this conference) and has influenced both formal and informal education within the United States and abroad.


ocean literacy; model


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