Recognizing the demand for more communications training in the nation's museums, parks, zoos, aquariums, and science centers, Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, has joined with Oregon State University's Professional and Noncredit Education unit on a new online certificate program for career seekers and professionals in informal education fields.
Participants in the Master Interpretive Guide Certificate Program will combine 107 hours of online training with internship opportunities and personal interaction with national experts to become master interpretive communicators. The curriculum, co-designed and co-taught by Birch Aquarium Director of Education Kristin Evans, helps participants identify target audiences and learn how to effectively reach these groups through interpretive writing and design. The program will launch in May.
The Master Interpretive Guide Certificate Program will give participants tools to improve informal education in the nation's museums, zoos, parks, aquariums, and science centers.
Oregon State University selected Birch Aquarium at Scripps for this unique collaboration because of its expertise in informal science communication and its connection to Scripps Oceanography and UC San Diego.
Birch Aquarium, the public outreach center for Scripps, is one of only six science centers in the nation that offers Communicating Ocean Sciences to Informal Audiences (COSIA) training. This extensive program teaches undergraduate and graduate students how to communicate their ocean-science discoveries to the public. In addition, Birch Aquarium educators host yearly professional development workshops for peers and peer institutions working in informal education settings.
"This collaboration is an exciting way for us to share our expertise with a larger audience," Birch Aquarium Executive Director Nigella Hillgarth said. "The way society learns is changing, and we're at the forefront of that. Through this program, we're helping to create the next generation of science communicators, and, in turn, better educate visitors at our nation's museums, science centers, and parks."
The impact could be substantial. According to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, U.S. zoos and aquariums see more than 175 million visitors each year — more visitors than NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB annual attendance combined. An additional 279 million visit the country's national parks, according to the National Park Service.
Enrollment is now open. The cost for the entire program is approximately $2,500. For a description of coursework and to enroll, visit the Master Interpretive Guide Certificate Program.
About Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Birch Aquarium at Scripps is the public exploration center for the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the aquarium features more than 60 habitats of fish and invertebrates from the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest to the tropical waters of Mexico and beyond. An interactive museum showcases research discoveries by Scripps scientists on climate, earth and ocean science and features five-dozen interactive elements. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Birch Aquarium has an annual attendance of more than 436,000, including 40,000 school children. In 2012, the aquarium celebrated its 20th anniversary at its current location, although a public aquarium has been part of Scripps Oceanography since its inception in 1903.
About OSU Professional and Noncredit Education
OSU Professional and Noncredit Education provides education and training for businesses, organizations, associations, and professionals in Oregon and beyond. The majority of professional and noncredit students are focused on continuing education: licensure recertification, professional development, and personal enrichment. OSU Professional and Noncredit Education is part of the university's Division of University Outreach and Engagement.
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