Recently, the concept of ocean literacy (OL) has been described as a way forward to help communities and individuals develop a more holistic understanding of their influences on the ocean and the ocean's influences on their lives. Still, OL has not yet been fully enacted in the K-12 curricula in Canada and many environmental education programs are taking the lead to provide participants with this type of broader understanding. In this study, I provide a broad overview of OL initiatives as enacted by the Ocean Wise NGO (OW) and how these have influenced the diffusion of ocean literacy in British Columbia (BC). I selected a range of education programs for data collection including school visits to the Vancouver Aquarium, offsite mobile programming (with AquaVan), and teacher professional development programs, both onsite and with an online learning platform. Through an instrumental case study design, I combine qualitative approaches with observations, together with focus groups and interviews, and questionnaires to provide a broad view of activities from the perspective of program participants. In addition, I explore how the programs' approaches influence participants in becoming ocean literate. The results revealed that by providing locally referenced experiences with hands-on, the programs have positive impact in participants experiences and connection to the ocean. Although there are limitations in the delivery of ocean literacy, the selected OW programs play an important role on introducing key concepts of our relationship with the ocean and advancing ocean literacy in BC.
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Thesis advisor: Zandvliet, David
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