LA JOLLA–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.
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 in the Master Interpretive Guide Certificate Program is now open. The cost for the entire program is approximately $2,500.
For a description of coursework and to enroll, visit .oregonstate.edu/guide.