Oceanists: 3 ways to design effective science communication

The sea has always been a resource for people living near the coast: the exploitation of sea resources  has dramatically increased, generating some concerning for the marine ecosystem. It’s more and more urgent to increase awareness about the complexity of the human-ocean relationships through education and ocean literacy.

I’m involved  in the ResponSEAble project, an Horizon 2020 project on Ocean Literacy, in different tasks related to communications, and more specifically, the social media management,  the design and realization of an interactive applied games, adopting the living lab approach.

Amelia Greiner Safi is  a senior research associate in the Department of Communication and faculty in the Master of Public Health Program at Cornell University in the United States. Her reseach activity is related to how   people understand, and act on, information about a range of health, environmental and social problems. In a recent interview, published on FuturEarth blog she discussed the meaning of “ocean literacy” in America and in Europe and the importance of what we want to achieve throught the ocean literacy, in order to better understand the audience and to motivate in order to change behavior. There is a knowledge gap, said  Greiner Safi,  and narrative is a very powerful way of communicating with and engaging non-experts.

The Ocean Literacy Framework

Mirjam Glessmer pointed in a recent post of her blog that she understood that   informing  the public, preferably using entertaining and engaging methods, on scientific issues is not enough. Also if people have the knowledge about specific question, like climate change or evolution theory, that doesn’t mean they accept that theories. She wrote “So knowledge (or lack thereof) clearly isn’t the problem we face in climate change communication — the problem is the entanglement of knowledge and identity.

Drawing from these two articles, I have listed  three actions that I would recommend to  Oceanists involved in designing ocean literacies initiative:

  • The oceans can seem far away.  People need concrete, immediate point of rentry  through something familiar – beaches, vacations, seafood, jobs, local economy
  • “Narrative” can be really important to getting attention and possibly inspiring change Narrative serves as relatable way to marry science with human experience
  • Entanglement of knowledge and identity is the real issue in scientific communication, rather than the knowledge (or the lack of).


My name is Eleonora Pantò  and work as   Learning, Inclusion and Social Innovation expert  at CSP –  a research organization in Italy. My current activities are related to Ocean Literacy for the Responseable Project and other  European cofunded research project. Feel free to reach out or connect with me at Linkedin  or Twitter @epanto. This article is one of the Assignment  of the Social Media Marketing Specialization from Northwestern University provided by Coursera. 

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