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Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence – Island Earth (COSEE IE)

The national network of COSEE centers, funded by the National Science Foundation, fosters the integration of ocean research into high-quality educational materials and enables ocean researchers to gain a better understanding of educational organizations and pedagogy. COSEE IE expands upon the work begun under the Pacific Ocean Literacy for Youth, Publics, Professionals and Scientists (POLYPPS) collaboration with COSEE CA. For both projects, the CMSE Director has served as a Co-PI, and the Center, along with the UHM School of Ocean and Earth Science & Technology (SOEST), CRDG, Maui College, and the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) have worked to lead the coordination and facilitation of workshops for college faculty and other educators in Communicating Ocean Sciences on Oahu in 2009, on Maui in 2010, and Hawai‘i Island in 2011.

The central premise of the COSEE Island Earth project is that, in order to advance understanding and encourage stewardship of ocean environments, science education must draw not only from the newest research in modern science and technology but also from the cultural contexts of the learners. The ocean serves as a source of water, food, medicine, jobs, transportation, recreation, and energy; it controls climate and weather. Because of the importance of the ocean to the island communities of the Pacific, science education should involve teaching students to apply ocean literacy concepts, in a way that makes sense, to improve their own lives. Our name, COSEE Island Earth, derives from the notion that lessons learned by island communities in economic sustainability and independence, environmental stewardship, and wise use of increasingly limited resources translates well to national, and global communities. It also emphasizes important land-sea connections, as well as the concept that in the Pacific, people are connected by the ocean both physically and philosophically, rather than separated by it. We argue that this philosophy must be translated throughout the world to achieve true ocean literacy and sustainability.

COSEE Island Earth began at the end of 2011 and is working with the existing COSEE network to address the challenges of increasing our citizens’ ocean literacy. As its over-arching goal, the Hawaii COSEE partnership will build a collaborative network that connects ocean research and teaching with traditional knowledge in order to facilitate active engagement in stewardship by all ocean users. We are working to achieve this goal by addressing the following primary objectives:

  1. Establish a state-wide hub for the purpose of matching the interests and needs of research scientists with those of education and outreach community. COSEE IE is establishing a virtual hub to connect our network of marine researchers with students and educators by providing opportunities for scientist participation in outreach, and expanded community participation in science. The Online Center for Education Alliances and Networking in Ocean Sciences (OCEANOS) will facilitate collaborations between members of the research and education communities.
  2. Enhance the science and ocean literacy of our island and visitor populations. COSEE IE is working with professionals that have direct contact with resident and visitor populations to provide relevant ocean science resources and professional development opportunities. Collaborative groups include university students, public libraries, ocean-related tour operators, and lifeguards.
  3. Connect scientific research, traditional knowledge, and ocean policy. COSEE IE is developing and supporting culturally relevant, place-based educational materials and programs that bridge formal and informal education, science and indigenous research, and cultural practices among local communities and visitors.

More information about COSEE IE can be found online at

COSEE IE Programs Include:

seaHarmony is an online collaboration network connecting ocean scientists wanting to become involved in broader impact education activities, and formal or informal educators and organizations who want to bring science to their students and communities. seaHarmony uses simple algorithms to align compatibility criteria and collaboration preferences for the best possible matching of scientists and community/education/outreach partners. Find out more at

Communicating Ocean Sciences
The Communicating Ocean Sciences course was created for students interested in improving their teaching skills and ability to communicate about complex science concepts using inquiry-based pedagogy. This course has previously been offered by the CMSE Director at the University of Hawaii Manoa and Maui Community College. COSEE IE is now partnering with Kapiolani Community College to offer it on their campus. Find out more at

Journalist at Sea
COSEE IE is currently working to develop a Journalist-at-Sea program to provide opportunities for journalists and journalism students to participate in oceanographic cruises on one of the many research vessels operating out of Oahu. Find out more at

Ocean Awareness Training
The Ocean Awareness Training program is an existing effort initiated by a consortium of ocean conservation organizations, including Hawaii Sea Grant, and coordinated by the Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Find out more at

Traditional & Indigenous Knowledge
COSEE Island Earth supports place-based research and education, and encourages the integration of Hawaiian and Western science, resource management principals, pedagogies, and philosophies to address contemporary issues through course adaptations, interdisciplinary fellowships, and interdisciplinary Symposia. Find out more at

All Things Marine Radio Show
Hosted on a popular talk radio show, Hawaii’s Tomorrow 760 AM, All Things Marine has monthly segments on marine science and conservation sponsored hosted by Carlie Wiener “the marine science gal”, and program manager for COSEE Island Earth. The program has been running monthly since May 2012. Download shows and Find out more at

HI Sci
HI Sci aims to amplify the presence, knowledge and voices of the community at large and Native Hawaiian students within the Hawaiian Island science community. HI Sci, is a University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) Native Hawaiian graduate student-driven initiative targeted at raising awareness and interaction between Native Hawaiians, the UHM student body, administration, affiliates, community of the Hawaiian Islands and members of the Hawai‘i Science community. Find out more at