Workshop Overview

Many faculty teaching at the introductory level use oceanographic themes to get their students excited about the geosciences. Whether in the form of a stand-alone Introductory Oceanography course or as oceanographic content integrated into other introductory courses, these concepts are an important part of the geoscience education for many students who will never take another course in the sciences.

This workshop will bring together educators from a wide variety of institutional settings and backgrounds with the common goal of sharing ideas, strategies, case studies, and tested models for improving the pedagogy and content of our Introductory Oceanography courses.

Workshop Goals

As a part of this workshop, participants will:

  • Exchange teaching tips about what works in our classrooms, such as identifying innovative and tested strategies for teaching Introductory Oceanography including interactive, hands-on, group, and active-learning techniques and the integration of real data. We will also share ideas and tested models on how to teach in various contexts, such as large classes, courses with no lab component, courses in land-locked states, courses in urban areas, online and hybrid instruction, and sites that lack computer access.
  • Create linkages with other disciplines by examining where and how oceanography topics are taught across the curriculum, and developing ways to maximize oceanographic topics impact on and from other disciplines - from geoscience classes to history, philosophy, chemistry, economics, and more.
  • Develop strategies for how Introductory Oceanography courses and topical materials can contribute to public science literacy, particularly how to make personal and societal decisions about the range of issues facing humanity and to live responsibly and sustainably on this planet.
  • Create a list of best practices and gather case-study resources for integrating emerging oceanographic issues and recent news events into course work and identifying how scientific data and research outcomes can inform public discourse on topical issues.
  • Develop strategies to reach under-represented groups and expand the diversity of students who enroll in our courses. We will consider strategies for improving the overall design of an Introdutory Oceanography course to maximize its appeal and effectiveness.


Participants must arrive in San Francisco in time for the first workshop day that starts at 8:15 am, Tuesday, June 18. (Arrive earlier if you plan to attend the optional field trip that starts at 8 am on Monday, June 17.) The workshop will be over on Thursday, June 20, at 5 pm. Those who plan to attend the post-event optional field trip, it will take place on Friday, June 21.


By applying to the workshop, participants agree to do the following if accepted:

  • Serve on a review committee from April to June 2013, applying standardized review criteria to teaching activities in the On the Cutting Edge activity collection related to oceanography. We anticipate that everyone will be asked to review ~5 activities using an on-line review form - each review will take about 30 minutes on average. (More details.)
  • Submit at least 2 teaching activities to complement the existing collection, prior to the workshop. Our goal is to have a comprehensive, reviewed collection of teaching activities ready to showcase at the summer workshop.
  • Prepare at least one demonstration, teaching activity, or resource to share during our whole group Share Fair.
  • Participate fully in the entire workshop and attend all workshop sessions. Many participants will be invited to make presentations or serve as discussion or working group leaders at the workshop.
  • Post-workshop: continue to network with workshop participants, share workshop resources with colleagues across the geosciences, and participate in follow-on activities such as making presentations at theme sessions at professional society meetings.

Application and Selection Criteria

Applicants for this workshop must hold a faculty position at a two- or four-year college or university and have responsibility for teaching oceanography topics either in an introductory Oceanography course or distributed through other courses. The workshop is limited to 60 participants, and the final list of participants will be established with the goal of assembling a group representing a wide range of experiences, educational environments, and specialties. For more information see our page on general information for Cutting Edge workshop participants.

Costs and Logistics

The workshop will be held at City College of San Francisco - Chinatown/North Beach Campus. Our National Science Foundation grant provides funding for most of the operational costs of this workshop. To be supported by these funds, a participant must be either a US citizen, a permanent resident, or in the employ of a US institution. If you don't meet these requirements and are interested in participating in this workshop at your own expense, please contact the workshop conveners. Costs of the workshop not covered by the grant are outlined below.

Workshop registration fee: $150 (includes lunch and dinner on the 18th and 19th and lunch on the 20th)

Travel, lodging: Participants or their home institutions must cover costs of lodging plus travel to and from the workshop. Please view our lodging page for a range of lodging options and costs. Participants must make their own lodging arrangements.

Transportation: Participants will be able to get back and forth to airport and to meeting venue by airport shuttle service, cab, or public transportation. Please view our travel and logistics page for more details.

Optional field trips: There will be a separate fee each for the pre and post optional field trips to cover transportation, lunch, and registration/cruise costs as applicable ($45 to $85 depending on trip). (*Note: field trips are limited in size to 40 participants.)

We will be able to offer small stipends to participants from institutions unable to cover the costs of travel and participation in Cutting Edge workshops. The deadline for applying for one of these stipends is March 12, 2013.

Reviewing Teaching Activities

The On the Cutting Edge program is conducting a comprehensive review of all our teaching collections. This process began with the Teaching Mineralogy, Petrology, and Geochemistry workshop in 2011 and continued with two workshops in 2012 on Teaching Environmental Geology and Teaching Structural Geology, Geophysics, and Tectonics in the 21st Century. The goal of this review is to develop a comprehensive and coherent set of teaching activities that will serve the geoscience education community for years to come. Participants to Teaching Oceanography will contribute to this effort by reviewing oceanography activities, help with our "gap analysis" to identify resources that are needed in this part of the collection, and will submit new activities to the collection. Watch for more details on the review process as plans for the workshop are solidified.

For More Information

Questions? Contact Katryn Wiese (