• Laura Lyth

Ocean Literacy in Sail Training: A shared responsibility enhancing social capital.

Learning through the coastal and marine environment encourages social interactions, embracing the concept of social capital: the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively. Students interact with their teachers/ lecturers, local experts and each other during the fieldwork experience; the voyage crew interacts with each other and the professional/ volunteer crew onboard a Sail Training vessel; the general public interact with their friends and family, the port event staff, the ships' companies. The relationships involved in these networks may vary in duration and depth - however, the experiential learning encounter could not happen without them.

It could even be suggested that education in itself - irrelevant of its delivery - cannot be an entirely individual activity/ experience. Even if an individual pursues to self educate, a network of individuals has needed to create or discover the information an individual seeks to absorb. Especially in this era of telecommunications and social media; making the search for knowledge somewhat easier and unrestricted by geographical location. Networks can be made with others whom you may have never met as a result of common interests. And in turn, it is human nature to share knowledge with others. This website a perfect example. I have provided this information on my own; as you may be reading it on your own. However, the network of relationships I have developed to be in a position to provide this information is vast and taken years to cultivate.

It has been widely identified that education of the [coastal and] marine environment is at present rather limited and lacking. Océanie embraces a shared responsibility approach by focusing on social capital. Though the creation of marine citizens, shared responsibility for the coastal and marine environment in principle should also develop - the more people care; the more they share and encourage participation. From this, initiatives which explore how life can be sustained in healthy seas, oceans and coastal environments for future and present generations evolve. After all, the world is made up of 70% water - it is, in essence, the lifeblood of the world and all living creatures that inhabit it.

As education regarding the coastal and marine environment has developed since the late 1960s/ early 1970s, there has been a shift towards a bottom-up approach. This means that awareness starts at the local level and works its way through the levels of society as it is those who work and live at the local level whom know and understand their immediate area the best - a return to social capital.

#oceanliteracy #sailtraining #education

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