2016 will mark the 10th anniversary of NEOSEC’s first Ocean Literacy Summit

by Pam DiBona


In February 2005, the three institutions of COSEE New England[1] convened leaders of ocean science education programs that included partnerships between educators and researchers to discuss potential areas of collaboration. With a professional facilitator, they explored actions they and their organizations could take up as a group that would further individual programmatic goals. At that time, the region was described as having:
  • Well established strengths & infrastructure…  but many programs in danger of withering.
  • Opportunities for collaboration…  but also competition.
  • Progress on defining ocean literacy…  but standards determined at state level.
  • Defined regional goals for collaboration…  but no tangible products yet.
The New England Ocean Science Education Collaborative (NEOSEC) emerged from that first meeting. There was only a subset of the current NEOSEC members around the table at URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography in December 2005 when a slightly larger group gathered to follow up on the February discussion.  In what has turned out to be a critical decision, the attendees focused on opportunities offered by the newly adopted Ocean Science Literacy (OSL, now referred to as simply Ocean Literacy) Principles.The group agreed on several goals:
  • To create and disseminate high quality educational materials and share best practices.
  • To broaden reach to education, science, policy audiences in the region.
  • To build collaboration, create governance structure, leverage funding.
By the end of the meeting, the group had identified a longer list of potential members for outreach and operating procedures describing future work. With the promised support of a newly hired COSEE New England program manager based at the New England Aquarium,[2]attendees signed off on the following statements:
  • We agree to adopt the OSL framework and proactively incorporate OSL into each of our institution’s programs, resources, etc.
  • We will convene a New England Summit focused on OSL by December 2006.
In November 2006, eighty people attended the first Summit at UMass Boston, and they left with new enthusiasm for collaboration and resource-sharing. You can find the proceedings – including ideas generated and all presentations – at this link: http://cosee-ne.cosee.net/OSL/NEOSECOceanScienceLiteracySummit.htm

[1] The Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence, a national program funded by NSF and supported by NOAA from 2002 to 2012, was hosted in New England at that time by the New England Aquarium, University of Rhode Island, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. COSEE now stands for “Consortium for Ocean Science Exploration and Engagement;” its website is at www.cosee.net.
[2] That was my first day on the job!


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