Center For Ocean Sciences Education Excellence COSEE Ocean Systems
Follow this link to skip to the main content

Scientists and educators at COSEE-OS workshops have developed concept maps to improve their collective understanding of Earth's major ocean - climate systems. Maps relating to ocean literacy are available for download (PDF format) or use in the COSEE-OS Concept Map Builder in the menu at left. Click here for climate literacy maps.

Ocean Literacy

Ocean Literacy brochure
Ocean literacy is an understanding of the ocean’s influence on you and your influence on the ocean. An ocean-literate person:
  • Understands the essential principles and fundamental concepts about the functioning of the ocean;
  • Can communicate about the ocean in a meaningful way; and
  • Is able to make informed and responsible decisions regarding the ocean and its resources.
In October 2005, several national organizations (National Geographic Society, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE), College of Exploration, and the National Marine Educators' Association) published a list of 7 Essential Principles and 44 Fundamental Concepts that currently define Ocean Science Literacy. This definition is the result of discussions among 100 scientists and educators, and serves as a national standard for ocean science education.

Subsequently, a guide containing the Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts and other information on ocean literacy was published in a downloadable brochure (PDF, 3.85 MB). This guide presents a vision of an ocean-literate society. A practical resource for educators, it outlines the knowledge required to be considered ocean literate in accordance with the National Science Education Standards (NSES). Visit the national OSL website for more information.

The COSEE network promotes ocean literacy through outreach and education. Some recent and upcoming events related to ocean literacy include:

  • The New England Ocean Science Education Collaborative (NEOSEC) Ocean Literacy Summits, and
  • An online public review of the Ocean Literacy Scope & Sequence for Grades K-12, conducted on the virtual campus of the College of Exploration by the COSEE Network, NOAA, the College of Exploration and the National Marine Educators Association from November 5 to November 19, 2008.
In addition, the COSEE Network, Census of Marine Life and New England Aquarium have joined forces to produce a banner displaying the Seven Essential Principles.