Center & Network Structure

The COSEE Network is comprised of 12 Centers plus a National COSEE Office. Overviews of each Center are found at About Us > Centers. Network-level initiatives are described at About Us > National Network.

Structure of COSEE Centers

Each COSEE Center has a minimum of three partners, including at least one organization from each of the following sectors, 1) ocean science research institutions, 2) informal education organizations, and 3) formal educational organizations. Thus each individual Center must be organized to foster multi-faceted collaborative activities. A typical Center has the following structural elements:

  • Center Director. Although Centers are often funded as collaborative proposals and thus have multiple Principal Investigators and Co-Principal Investigators, each Center must designate a Director. The Director is expected to have the capacity and vision to engage the oceanographic research, formal education, and informal education communities to advance the availability and quality of information on the oceans.
  • COSEE Council Representative. Each Center has one primary and one alternate representative on the COSEE Council, a management group that addresses issues related to long-term planning for the Network, the coordination of COSEE activities, and external collaborations.
  • Center External Advisory Committee. These Committees act as "sounding boards" for ideas, priorities, problems within Centers. They push Centers to excel and look for new opportunities to expand their reach and/or capacity. External Advisory Committees nominally provide annual reports to COSEE Program Managers at the National Science Foundation.
  • Center Evaluator. Each Center has personnel who are fully aware of both evaluation fundamentals and the specific challenges of ocean education. Center evaluators provide expertise and design instruments that can be used to assess and strengthen new or ongoing efforts.

Structure of COSEE Network

All COSEE Centers participate in various collaborative activities that are expected to have a national impact. Given the broad geographic coverage of the COSEE Network, communication among Centers is vitally important. The primary Network coordination elements are the COSEE Council and the National COSEE Office. These entities, plus other important components of the Network, are described below:

  • COSEE Council. This governing deliberative assembly consists of one primary and one alternate representative from each funded Center plus the Executive Director, lead of the NCO. Ex Officio members of the Council include NSF COSEE Program Managers, key representatives from NOAA, and the National Network Evaluators. The Council is informed by the collective work of the Centers to ensure that the Network learns, benefits from and spreads best practices representative of the sum of all efforts. The Council meets formally approximately three times per year and, between these meeting, communicates monthly via telecon.
  • Council Executive Committee. The Executive Committee includes the annually elected Chair, Past Chair and Chair-Elect of the Council. The Executive Committee works in close collaboration with the National Science Foundation COSEE Program Managers and with the Executive Director.
  • Working Committees. These Committees are formed by the Council to spread workload and widen discussion on Network support functions, short-term or long-term issues pertinent to the continuous growth and well-being of COSEE. A "Common Operating Agreement" has been formulated for all Committees that includes guidelines on participation, documentation, and communication to the Council. At present there are four active Working Committees: Diversity, Evaluation, Messaging/Marketing and Web.
  • National COSEE Office (NCO). The NCO organizes national oversight of the COSEE effort and enhances communication and collaboration among the Centers. The NCO facilitates meetings and workshops, oversees the Network web presence, and coordinates the National Advisory Council. In addition, it provides support and guidance to individual Centers.
  • Executive Director. Principal Investigator for the NCO, the Executive Director represents the unified mission, work, and aspirations of the COSEE Network within its entire membership, and externally to reach beyond the individual Centers' boundaries. The Executive Director actively supports networking and sustainability goals of the network established by the COSEE Council.
  • National Advisory Committee (NAC).The NAC is a source of advice for the Network and provides recommendations for the improvement of effectiveness of the overall COSEE program. It includes a balance of perspectives and varied expertise including, but not limited to: Research scientists, Officers of scientific societies and professional organizations, Formal and informal science educators, States’ Departments of Education staff, Professional program evaluators, Ocean-related Foundation staff, and Ocean-related Industry/Business/Technology leaders. The NAC meets twice per year: during the annual Network Meeting (first week of May) and once in conjunction with a COSEE Council meeting (first week of November).
  • National Network Evaluator. Evaluation information from all Centers is reported to the National Network Evaluator, who is responsible for the synthesis, analysis, and interpretation of these data. The National Network Evaluator formulates a strategic plan for evaluating the effectiveness and impact of the COSEE Network at a national scale.