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50 Years of Ocean Discovery: National Science Foundation 1950—2000 Education in Oceanography: History, Purpose, and Prognosis ARTHUR R. M. NOWELL College of Ocean and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington INTRODUCTION My purpose in writing this review and prognosis on education in ocean sciences is to catalyze discussion and hopefully action in areas of education where often neither faculty nor graduate students in oceanography venture. I will first review some history to understand how we come to our present situation. I will then review the functional areas of education from graduate to informal education and finally raise some questions about our future and our values. SOME HISTORY OF UNIVERSITIES AND OCEANOGRAPHY RELATED TO EDUCATION The history of the modern research university as it exists in the late 20th century was envisioned first in 1809. In that year, the year Abraham Lincoln was born, Wilhelm von Humbolt published a report on university reform in Germany. Higher education until then had been more a matter of rote learning than of creative scholarship. Humbolt proposed that: The idea of disciplined intellectual activity, embodied in institutions, is the most valuable element of the moral culture of the nation. One unique feature of higher intellectual institutions is that they conceive of science and scholarship as dealing with ultimately inexhaustible tasks: this means they are engaged in an unceasing process of inquiry. At the higher level the teacher does not exist for the sake of the student; both teacher and student have their justification in the common pursuit of knowledge. The teacher's performance depends on the students' presence and interest—without this science and scholarship could not grow. (Humbolt, 1809) But for many in the United States, the university was a foreign concept, and universities existed only in the old eastern seaboard cities. That changed in 1860 with the passage of the Morrill Land Grant Act that permitted states, territories, and local groups to apply for federal land grants, the proceeds of which could be used to support education. Even among politicians in Washington, D.C., education and learning were valued. In his autobiography, Lincoln wrote: He studied and nearly mastered the six books of Euclid since he became a member of Congress. He regrets his want of education and does what he can to supply the want. (my italics) The Land Grant Act encouraged the establishment of state universities and colleges throughout the United States. My own institution in Seattle was founded in 1861, when Seattle barely had a population of 500. The first class had 5 students ! Education links to the federal government were much stronger in the nineteenth century than today. There was a freer exchange of people. Such leaders of science as John Wesley Powell and G.K. Gilbert both held university positions, both became directors of the U.S. Geological Survey, both published some enduring scientific papers while serving in Washington, D.C. and going into the field in Utah! Today, even as the federal government supports immense research infrastructure in research universities, the exchange between the two sides has dwindled. We place people into separate compartments: once you leave the classroom and research lab to administer or support science in Washington, D.C., you are not much welcomed back. As academics at institutions of higher learning, we have much to learn to change this attitude—to change it back to the mid-nineteenth century ideal. But the history of education in oceanography in the United States was written broadly with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report of 1929, often-called F.R. Lillie Report. Lillie's committee made only four comments on education: The general paucity of opportunities for instruction in this general field is so obvious that it needs no detailed survey for corroboration. The graduate student, sufficiently devoted to the subject and
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50 Years of Ocean Discovery: National Science Foundation 1950—2000 fitted for advanced instruction or research, finds far fewer avenues than the importance of this field of science demands. The advance of Oceanography in America now suffers from one of its greatest handicaps, for progress in this science is a matter not only of ships, laboratories and money, but far more of men, which implies opportunities for education. And it is of men that there is now the most serious shortage. It is in fact, one of the most serious obstacles to advances in this field that it is not now possible for a student to obtain a course of instruction, properly graded upward from the elementary introduction to advanced research, in any one American University. In America the oceanographer must today be largely self-taught in the basic aspects of his subject. Regrettably, F.R. Lillie then proceeded to ignore entirely what was obviously the key obstacle to oceanography. He focussed on the creation of a facility for research. The report recommended establishing Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The Lillie Report did enhance research facilities that were used by both a small group of resident scientists and a group of visiting scientists and their students, working as was the style of the time in an apprenticeship mode. The report, however, became a model for how education was to be dealt with in future NAS and overview reports in 1960 and 1969! This apprenticeship mode continued and until the 1980s the majority of scientists in the field received their training outside the discipline, most often in chemistry, geology, applied physics, and zoology for example, and after earning a doctorate degree changing fields to enter oceanography. At the broader federal level, three developments between 1945 and 1950 changed the entire complexion of higher education in the United States and especially in oceanography. In 1945, the GI Bill was passed, which opened higher education to a much wider segment of the population. Prior to 1945, the university was mainly the provenance of the moneyed families: the GI Bill is often referred to as the largest piece of affirmative action legislation ever passed. In 1946, the Office of Naval Research was founded. Its impact on the field of oceanography as a science and on the institutional characteristics of our science has been immense. Finally, in 1950 the National Science Foundation Act was passed. The establishment of NSF followed the publication of Vannevar Bush's important study, Science: The Endless Frontier (Bush, 1945). In that report, Bush noted: Before the War in all but a few of the prosperous universities, teaching loads were excessive from the standpoint of optimal research output. During the war, the university scientist had for the first time the facilities and assistance to carry on research. It is of the utmost importance to maintain a favorable competitive position for universities. When the Bush Report was written only 35 percent of the U.S. population advanced further than Grade Eight at school and less than 10 percent of the U.S. population went to college. Teaching loads were approximately 18 contact hours per week in engineering and 12 hours per week in the sciences. Today, when faculty talk about teaching load, it is instructive to recall the differences! Today, over 95 percent of the population graduates from high school and over 80 percent of high school graduates attend colleges and universities. The role and function of higher education must surely reflect these differences, as must the role and responsibilities of NSF. The Symposium celebrated the creation of NSF. The Bush Report called for the creation of the National Science Foundation and in 1945 the Kilgore-Magnuson Bill was introduced to create this independent agency. The process of creating and funding NSF now looks like a template of how much of science is funded by NSF today, a process of submit thrice and fund once at less than requested levels, for the 1945 Bill was submitted and rejected. So like you or I with a proposal, it was reworded and re-submitted by Magnuson in 1947. It was again rejected, resubmitted, and yet again rejected. But Magnuson was a tenacious politician, as was Vannevar Bush, so when the bill was submitted after three rejections in 1949 it was passed: NSF was created and funded. On May 10, 1950, President Harry Truman signed the NSF Act on a whistle-stop train pausing at Pocatello, Idaho. Truman referred to the endless frontier of science and the mystique of the western frontier. He said NSF would provide ''new frontiers for the mind and a fuller and more fruitful life for all citizens." Regrettably, NSF only funded research. Education in the form of student support and fellowships was not included. Until the late 1950s, ONR was the major supporter of education and human resources in ocean sciences. From 1958 onward, NSF's rapid growth started to have a major impact, and other agencies such as the Atomic Energy Commission, provided research support and assistantships for targeted research related to nuclear waste or the unintended consequences of nuclear power generation. By the late 1950s, ONR had assisted in the establishment of many of today's oceanographic institutions. The field of ocean sciences was now established at over a dozen universities, whereas in 1946, doctoral education in oceanography existed mainly through other science departments such as chemistry and zoology. Another NAS report was published on oceanography in 1959 and purported to look to the next decade (NAS, 1959). However, its comments on education and the role of universities was much like the Lillie Report, focusing on producing clones for the research enterprise. Again, there were only three major suggestions: Universities now providing graduate education for oceanographers should be encouraged to increase numbers and quality of output. It is desirable to develop oceanographic education at new centers that should be at universities with strong faculties in the sciences.
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50 Years of Ocean Discovery: National Science Foundation 1950—2000 Efforts should be made in the research and survey programs to use larger numbers of assistants at the Bachelor's and Master's level to utilize more efficiently the limited number of persons available at the doctoral level. The third, and arguably most influential report on oceanography, was published in 1969. It is often referred to as the Stratton Report but its full title is Our Nation and the Sea: A Plan for National Action (CMSER, 1969). However, this report is as weak as the Lillie Report in its recognition of the role and responsibilities of education on oceanography. It makes just two recommendations in relation to education: NOAA [should] be assigned responsibility to help assure that the Nation's marine manpower needs are satisfied and to help devise uniform standards for nomenclature of marine occupations. (Note NOAA wisely, or by default, did not achieve this!) NSF should expand its support for undergraduate and graduate education in the basic marine-related disciplines and plan post-doctoral programs in consultation with academic and industrial marine communities. Hence, forty years after the Lillie Report, education in ocean sciences was largely ignored at the federal level and the individual institutions devised their own responses to local educational needs as well as the perceived national research agenda. The growth of graduate programs in the 1950s and 1960s was in large measure a response to the lack of trained staff, so that both master' s and doctoral programs were created. NAS (1959) made many recommendations about increasing support for students and suggesting stronger ties between oceanographic labs and academic institutions. These recommendations focused almost exclusively on the graduate level. EDUCATION IN THE OCEAN SCIENCES: WHAT IS THE POINT? As the NAS reports did not provide any insight into the role and goals of education in oceanography in the first years of the development of our field, it is now appropriate to ask a series of questions. These questions are not new. Since 1979, a group of deans and directors of academic programs in the United States have met biennially to share information and discuss shared issues related to graduate education. Called the "Deans' Retreat," these meetings were catalyzed by Charley Hollister and Jake Peirson of Woods Hole, and I worked with the group for 17 years ensuring the development of a database for our discussions (Nowell and Hollister, 1988, 1990). The data are now available through the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education (http://core.cast.msstate.edu/oserintro.html) and the biennial meetings are called the "Ocean Sciences Educators Retreat" Is Our Role Simply to Produce Professionals? If you attend a meeting of oceanographers you will almost always hear the clarion call that we are producing too many Ph.D.s— new competition who are sometimes out-competing the established scientists. And, if you ever ask in a group why we have doctoral programs, you will hear a uniform response. We want excellent students who are creative and imaginative to assist in transforming the field, and we want the field to expand to absorb these new scientists. But is that the role of academic departments at universities, or is that just one of many responsibilities? In some fields, such as dentistry, the objective of achieving the professional qualification is to practice the art and skills learned. I can think of no other reason for obtaining a DDS degree than to practice dentistry. In the case of a medical degree the objective is overwhelmingly to produce practicing physicians. Does obtaining a law degree mean you will practice law? I would say overwhelmingly yes, unless you choose to enter politics! (Maybe that explains the difference in regard for learning between 1860 and 1999.) But, does an advanced degree in physics mean you are going to become an academic physicist, or does an advanced degree in oceanography mean you can only become a faculty member undertaking research? Table 1 indicates that the answers to these last two questions show a surprising variance. More physicists than oceanographers enter industry than become academics by a factor of three and almost 50 percent more oceanographers enter research in oceanography than engage in research in physics. Is this a consequence of the structure of our field, in which the overwhelming majority of students are supported on research assistantships versus being supported on teaching assistantships or fellowships? Today, a more eclectic vision is emerging among faculty that recognizes and even encourages students to consider careers besides becoming a federally supported researcher. Faculty are recognizing that the relationship of educator to the student is more than the relationship of crafts-person to apprentice. TABLE 1 Employment of Ph.D. Degree Recipients Ocean Sciences (%) Physics (%) Industry 10 35 Government 14 10 University 60 36 Other (FFRDC) 16 19 TOTAL 100 100 NOTE: FFRDC = Federally Funded Research and Development Center. Is Our Role to Produce Scientifically Literate and Numerically Adept Graduates Who Enter a Wide Range of Professions ? One way to answer this question is to look at the employment patterns from our field and compare them with another field such as physics. Tables 2 and 3 compare master's and bachelor's degree employment, respectively, for oceanography and physics.
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50 Years of Ocean Discovery: National Science Foundation 1950—2000 TABLE 2 Employment of Master's Degree Recipients Ocean Sciences (%) Physics (%) Industry 25 40 University 18 16 Government 29 18 Self Employed > 1 22 Other (unknown) 28 4 TOTAL 100 100 TABLE 3 Employment of Bachelor's Degree Recipients Ocean Sciences (%) Physics (%) Industry 50 55 College/University 15 3 Government 25 11 Military 5 19 High School >1 10 Other 5 2 TOTAL 100 100 What is evident is the strong role that industry plays in employment in physics all the way from bachelor's (55 percent) to master's (40 percent) to doctoral degree (35 percent) holders. Another surprising difference is the very small numbers of bachelor's degree holders in oceanography that enter high school teaching. Is it possible that the paucity of students interested in the Earth sciences is due to the low number of high school teachers who have a formal education in the Earth sciences? I conclude from these data that oceanography has yet to capitalize on the value of a master's degree. Too often, a master's student is regarded as a failed doctoral student: but economic data show that a master's degree is the most economically advantageous degree. Bachelor's degrees in oceanography are exceptionally rare: very few academic institutions offer such degrees because the usual argument is made that you can't be an oceanographer with just a bachelor's degree and that a grounding in basic science is crucial for entering graduate school. Such arguments ignore the fact that fewer than 20 percent of undergraduates proceed to graduate school and those faculties at universities have a responsibility to educate undergraduates. Oceanography as a field has missed out on the chance to lead the burgeoning interest in interdisciplinary education even though oceanography is inherently interdisciplinary. It is a problem that could be addressed readily at the local level. Is Our Role to Provide an Intelligent Basis for Public Decision-making About Marine and Coastal Issues as Well as the Larger Context of Global Environmental Issues and Issues of Science in Public Policy ? A survey of public understanding of science by NSF three years ago (NSB, 1996) found that only 2 percent of respondents understand science as the development and testing of theory. About 13 percent understand that science involves careful measurement and comparison of data and 21 percent understand the concept that an experiment may involve the use of a control group. Approximately 64 percent do not understand science at any of these levels. A survey of public understanding of environmental concepts is slightly more encouraging. While only 7 percent can list the cause of acid rain, over 17 percent can identify the location of the ozone hole and 32 percent can list harms that result from the ozone hole. I would suggest that oceanographers, whether they be faculty or students, whether they be aquaria employees or research institution staff, have a shared responsibility to ensure the public can make informed choices when environmental issues reach the ballot. Apportionment of water in the U.S. West and the threat of salmon species extinction are part of this suite of issues for which we, as scientists, have a public responsibility. WHAT ARE OUR VALUES? THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION IN OCEAN SCIENCES The responsibility of scientists in the arena of public education cannot be underestimated but a question closer to the hearts of academics is what are the purposes of education in oceanography? I would list specific purposes. They apply equally to undergraduate as well as post-graduate education. We strive to teach students the language of ocean sciences and some things of the disciplines that are its underpinnings. We introduce students to the ways of science that imply familiarity with the tools and methodologies of inquiry and with the conceptual as well as practical problems of ocean sciences. We help students learn critical thinking skills including the methods of reasoning logically, deductively, inductively, of accuracy and precision and the limitations of data and of models. We help students become effective communicators and strive to persuade students to teach others. We inculcate a personal love of learning that will last a lifetime so that internal scholarly standards and a continuing curiosity become the basis for living. I would challenge each academic department in ocean sciences to evaluate its curricula and its educational programs and ask how many of these goals are achieved. Although this challenge is partly being addressed as more and more university departments evaluate their responsibility to undergraduate teaching, it is still far from universal that faculty in the ocean sciences perceive their role as educators, and not just master crafts-persons.
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50 Years of Ocean Discovery: National Science Foundation 1950—2000 WHAT CAN WE DO AS A SCIENCE? There are three arenas in which we can make a difference. The one most central to the hearts of most faculty is graduate education. Although we may do a superb job in training students for research careers in oceanography, the variability in funding, the decline in national interest in science, and the decreasing numbers of students interested in becoming teaching faculty all suggest we have some work to do to better prepare our students for a life other than that of a research scientist. We should begin by asking what roles the differing degrees play and what are the expectations and rewards for different levels of academic effort. We must ensure that graduate education is more than a research apprenticeship. One question we might consider is what role a thesis should play in the degree and what role it should play in relation to student learning and subsequent employment. One question that can be asked is: How do we envision doctoral thesis research? In the past, the thesis was seen as piece of lone scholarship developed by the individual student working as much as possible independently of everyone else. But today many of the problems that are being investigated require multi-disciplinary teams and teams that have programs that last longer than the duration of a student's thesis years. How do we develop team-based collaborative research and teach students how to make significant creative contributions to shared societally relevant problems? A survey carried out at Stanford University (Massey and Goldman, 1995; see also Golde and Fiske, 1997) revealed recently that 60 percent of doctoral students are looking for careers outside academia or not involving research. In other words, a minority of students are considering traditional careers in academia. In addition, 70 percent of the students claimed they had changed their career goals while at graduate school. But I surmise that an overwhelming majority of the present faculty believe that the only good students are those who are planning to become faculty! That is certainly the perception of the students in the survey who assert that faculty are considerably more supportive if they perceive the student to be pursuing a research career. The Stanford survey showed that students overwhelmingly (73 percent) felt that the doctoral degree takes too long to obtain and that 80 percent claimed advising was the most important aspect of doctoral studies. It would seem then that we must, as faculty address our responsibilities to explain to prospective and in-residence students the differing career paths and do so in a supportive manner. We must also develop better methods of providing students information on differing career tracks (e.g., through professional societies). The American Physical Society already does this. Their Web page is a good example of how to be supportive of beginning scholars in a field. As a field, oceanography has been significantly absent from undergraduate education. In part, this is because many universities have their oceanography programs located at a distance from the center of mass of their undergraduate programs, but in part, it is a self-sustaining result. We didn't have undergraduates, so we don't have undergraduates, so we don't want undergraduates. But the entire field of Earth sciences has changed. Global environmental science has become of more immediacy to local and national politics and as Earth system science has recently become possible through structured and linked models and global observing networks. The future for oceanography may lie in much stronger linkages to other geosciences including atmospheric sciences, geo-hydrology, environmental chemistry, and sustainable biospheres. The isolation from undergraduate education may then become a major handicap to future university programs. The emerging integration of the global geosciences offers a stellar opportunity for oceanographers to become more actively involved in undergraduate education. It offers the chance to encourage smart students to enter graduate school, learn geosciences and then teach, and learn about the integration of the sciences and the role of collaborative studies in important societal problems. If we do not avail ourselves of this opportunity, oceanography could become marginal to many universities and thus, become even more dependent on federal research funds. The last area in which we must examine our values and our responsibilities is in the area of societal education. In the past year the American public has been inundated by stories that involve the ocean. The movie Titanic, the novel The Perfect Storm, the widespread coverage of the impacts of warm Pacific waters through El Niño are perfect examples of a strong base on which we could build public interest and support for our science. Faculty or research scientists alone cannot undertake this responsibility. It is the shared responsibility of public and private universities and research institutions, of scientists at federal and state agencies and aquaria. While individuals look at what contributions they are making, higher educational institutions are increasingly re-evaluating their role in undergraduate education and K-12 education and outreach. Now would be an excellent time for NSF to re-evaluate its organization that separates education from research. Increasingly, we tie these together: leadership by the agency to integrate them at the funding level would be a strong signal of change. To return to the beginning again to the words of Abraham Lincoln, "Public opinion is everything. With public opinion nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed." In oceanography, in science, and in education, we must recognize, and we must realize, and we must respond to this concept. Oceanography, and all of us who are committed to the field, will succeed when the public shares and supports our goals. We can succeed best when our goals and public goals are one and the same. This requires listening to an audience that we in academia rarely consider. While we educate the public about oceanography, we should also listen to the challenges that the public believes are important.
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50 Years of Ocean Discovery: National Science Foundation 1950—2000 REFERENCES Bush, V. 1945. Science-The Endless Frontier. A Report to the President on a Program for Postwar Scientific Research. U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. Commission on Marine Science, Engineering and Resources (CMSER). 1969. Our Nation and the Sea: A Plan for National Action. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. Fartington, J.W., and A.L. Peirson, III. 1996. Undergraduate college faculty workshop. Oceanography 9:135-139. Golde, C.M., and P. Fiske. 1997. Graduate school and the job market of the 1990s: A survey of young geoscientists. AGU On-Line Discussion http://earth.agu.org/eos-elec/97117e.html Massey, W., and C. Goldman. 1995. The Production and Utilization of Science and Engineering Doctorates in the United States. Stanford University, California. National Academy of Sciences (NAS). 1929. Oceanography: Its Scope, Problems, and Economic Importance. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. National Academy of Sciences (NAS). 1959. Oceanography 1960 to 1970 . National Academy Press, Washington D.C. National Science Board (NSB). 1996. Science and Engineering Indicators . NSB 96-2, Washington D.C. Nowell, A.R.M., and C.D. Hollister. 1988. Graduate students in oceanography: Recruitment, success and career prospects. EOS 69:834-843. Nowell, A.R.M., and C.D. Hollister. 1990. Undergraduate and graduate education in oceanography. Oceanus 33:31-38.
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