Family exploring the tide pool touch tank at the Hatfield Marine Science Center

Learning in the classroom - and beyond

Environmental literacy is a fundamental understanding of natural systems: the relationships and interactions between the living and non-living environment. But literacy goes beyond simply knowing and understanding, to acting - whether through seeking out new learning or changing behavior.

Promoting sustained, long-term environmental literacy in the 21st century requires rethinking how we engage audiences. For more than a decade, Oregon Sea Grant has been a leader - at OSU and nationally - in the study and practice of free-choice learning. This self-directed learning is the way we learn for most of our lives - and it has become the focus Oregon Sea Grant's educational programming and research.

Our outreach and engagement team builds on a long Sea Grant tradition of educating, informing and engaging with the coastal public, the businesses and institutions that drive its economy, and visitors who want to know what they're seeing at the coast (including where they can buy fresh Oregon seafood).

At the same time, we continue our commitment to a scientifically aware, technologically literate public through

  • Our innovative program in Free-Choice Learning, which has become a national leader in the study of how people learn in "free-choice" environments such as aquaria, museums and science centers.
  • Our k-12 STEM education programs at OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center and elsewhere
  • Our Sea Grant Scholars program, which gives university graduate and undergraduate students experience learning and working in the lab, in the field, and even in the nation's capitol.

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