New Collaboration with COSEE California Delivers First Instructor Workshop in Hawaii

 Participants explore water while learning about teaching approaches

The New Collaboration between COSEE California and the University of Hawaii has begun! Pacific Ocean Literacy for Youth, Publics, Professionals and Scientists (POLYPPS) stems from a central premise that science education must draw not only from the latest advances in western science and technology but also from the cultural contexts in which learners are embedded. The project focuses on training educators and scientists to effectively communicate ocean sciences to public audiences that include multi-ethnic populations expressing a range of cultural contexts.

Over the next three years, the University of Hawaii and COSEE California will engage researchers, educators, and a range of community partners in a network that builds ocean literacy for: (1) Hawaii’s youth (K-16 students), including Hawaii’s substantial, year-round transient tourist population as well as its residents; (2) professionals working in ocean-related businesses; and (3) scientists engaged in ocean research. We are adapting and implementing the COSEE California courses Communicating Ocean Sciences (COS) and Communicating Ocean Sciences to Informal Audiences (COSIA) for our island setting. The training of instructors of these courses and the teaching of the courses themselves will create relationships to bridge formal and informal education, research, traditional cultural practices, and public activities among local communities and island visitors. The long-range goal is to build a collaborative network that connects ocean research and teaching with traditional knowledge to facilitate active engagement in stewardship and policy by all ocean users.

Faculty at University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) and Maui Community College recently hosted the very first workshop in Hawaii for instructors interested in teaching the Communicating Ocean Sciences courses. On March 6-7, twenty-two formal and informal instructors gathered at the campuses of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology and UHM on Oahu to learn about the courses and share ideas with colleagues on developing courses for university students and informal educators. Half of the participants were from Oahu and the other half were from the neighbor islands of Hawaii, Kauai and Maui. COSEE California PIs Catherine Halversen and Craig Strang led the workshop with the assistance of UHM faculty Kanesa Duncan and Judy Lemus, and Maui Community College faculty Ann Coopersmith.

A lively discussion about the nature of science 

Because of the importance of place-based education in Hawaii, we are working to contextualize COS/IA course elements through the use of exemplars of local and traditional knowledge systems. We have engaged a dynamic and respected group of traditional practitioners to advise efforts for respectfully and responsibly integrating aspects of traditional ecological knowledge with the existing course material. These components will be developed and matriculated into the Hawaii COS/IA curriculum over the next two to three years, with the hope of providing a process model for other institutions interested in similar efforts.

From the initial responses, it appears that the workshop was a great success, with three university institutions (University of Hawaii at Manoa, Maui Community College and Hawaii Pacific University) committed to teaching one or both of the COS/IA courses in Fall 2009. Many other participants discussed adapting the COSIA course for informal education instructors and docents. During the 3-year program, two more training workshops will be taught by COSEEstaffon the islands of Maui and Hawaii.

Submitted by Judy Lemus, Pat Cooper, Kanesa Duncan, Ann Coopersmith, Liz Kumabe, and Clyde Sakamoto