What Do We Mean By
Ocean Literacy?

Robert Stewart
Texas A&M University

Many documents have called for the education of ocean literate citizens. But what do we mean by ocean literacy? Is it similar in meaning to E. Donald Hirsch's Cultural Literacy? Or to Science Literacy?

Some Definitions

A Proposed Definition of Ocean Literacy

The various ocean-literacy reports cited above advocate a level of ocean literacy congruent with Shamos' Functional Scientific Literacy. I propose that an ocean literate individual:

This definition of ocean literacy is shorter than, but agrees well with the definition of ocean literacy proposed by the New England Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence.


Hirsch, E. D. Jr. (1987). Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Project 2061 (1990). Science for All Americans. New York: Oxford University Press.

Shamos, M. H. (1995). The Myth of Scientific Literacy. New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press.


Please send comments to Dr. Bob (Bob Stewart).

Revised on: 21 September, 2004

Revised on: 6 January, 2009

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