New NSF awards encourage collaborations between ocean scientists and educators

December 02, 2002

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded its first eight grants in a new Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE) program designed to integrate ocean science research into delivery of high-quality education programs in the ocean sciences. The new program also aims to promote a deeper public understanding of the oceans and their influence on quality of life and national prosperity. Seven centers around the country will be formed, with one central coordinating COSEE office. Centers are headquartered at: the New England Aquarium, Boston; University of California at Berkeley; University of Southern California; Rutgers University, New Jersey; University of South Florida; University of Southern Mississippi; and the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium. The Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education (CORE) in Washington, D.C. will serve as the coordinating network office.

"The work of the COSEE network as a whole will promote better understanding of the key role that the ocean plays in global environmental cycles and processes," said James Yoder, director of NSF's division of ocean sciences. "COSEE activities will also highlight the contribution that ocean science researchers make to scientific knowledge in these important areas. We at NSF are encouraging the ocean science research community to become more involved in education at all levels. The establishment of the COSEE network is an important milestone in our work to promote and catalyze such efforts."

For several years, the need for scientists to work with educators to enhance the public's understanding of science has been recognized as an important priority in such reports as "NSF in a Changing World" (NSF, 1995) and "Shaping the Future: New Expectations for Undergraduate Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology" (NSF, 1996).

A May 2000 workshop explored the benefits of a nationally coordinated effort in ocean science education. Participants identified a wealth of opportunities for national coordination of ocean science education efforts. A panel of ocean research and ocean education experts then met to advise NSF on priorities for implementation of COSEE. The NSF COSEE program was developed based on recommendations contained in reports available at

Each COSEE center represents one or more ocean science research institution, an informal science education organization, and at least one affiliate organization representing the formal education community. Center activities include:In addition, said Yoder, COSEE centers will ensure that underrepresented groups in the ocean sciences have improved access to ocean science education and research results. "Historically, the field of oceanography has not attracted a diverse set of students, and only limited progress has been made in the past decade. Individual COSEE centers will make a concerted effort to include underrepresented groups in educational activities, both formal and informal, involving the oceans."

The COSEE central coordinating office at CORE will act as a central hub for information used by all the centers, and will encourage development of additional centers in the network, as appropriate. The coordinating office will organize an independent national oversight committee that will help shape the COSEE system. This committee will advise on the future directions of the COSEE effort as a whole, and will help ensure connections among all user communities.
The web address for the FY2002 COSEE awards is

National Science Foundation

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