A System Dynamics Approach to Increasing Ocean Literacy

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For the week of 15 July 2019

Greetings OpenChannels Community Members,

Frontiers in Marine Science published, A System Dynamics Approach to Increasing Ocean Literacy.

Abstract: Ocean Literacy (OL) has multiple aspects or dimensions: from knowledge about how the oceans work and our impact on them, to attitudes toward topics such as sustainable fisheries, and our behaviour as consumers, tourists, policy makers, fishermen, etc. The myriad ways in which individuals, society and the oceans interact result in complex dynamic systems, composed of multiple interlinked chains of cause and effect. To influence our understanding of these systems, and thereby increase our OL, means to increase our knowledge of our own and others’ place and role in the web of interactions. Systems Thinking has a potentially important role to play in helping us to understand, explain and manage problems in the human-ocean relationship. Leaders in the OL field have recommended taking a systems approach in order to deal with the complexity of the human-ocean relationship. They contend that the inclusion of modelling and simulation will improve the effectiveness of educational initiatives. In this paper we describe a pilot study centred on a browser-based Simulation-Based Learning Environment (SBLE) designed for a general audience that uses System Dynamics simulation to introduce and reinforce systems-based OL learning. It uses a storytelling approach, by explaining the dynamics of coastal tourism through a System Dynamics model revealed in stages, supported by fact panels, pictures, simulation-based tasks, causal loop diagrams and quiz questions. Participants in the pilot study were mainly postgraduate students. A facilitator was available to participants at all times, as needed. The model is based on a freely available normalised coastal tourism model by Hartmut Bossel, converted to XMILE format. Through the identification and use of systems archetypes and general systems features such as feedback loops, we also tested for the acquisition of transferable skills and the ability to identify, apply or create sustainable solutions. Levels of OL were measured before and after interaction with the tool using pre- and post-survey questionnaires and interviews. Results showed moderate to very large positive effects on all the OL dimensions, which are also shown to be associated with predictors of behaviour change. These results provide motivation for further research.

As always, if we've missed anything, please feel free to let us know. You may simply reply to this message, or you may email Allie directly at: abrown [at] openchannels.org.

You can read everything (not just the free stuff) we have found this week at https://www.openchannels.org/literature-update/2019-07-17.

Additionally, you can browse literature by the week we've added it at https://www.openchannels.org/literature-by-week.

Thank you for being part of the OpenChannels Community,
– Allie Brown, Raye Evrard, and the rest of the OpenChannels Team


OA: Lucchetti, A Bargione, G Petetta, A Vasapollo, C. & Virgili, M. Reducing Sea Turtle Bycatch in the Mediterranean Mixed Demersal FisheriesFrontiers in Marine Science 6, (2019).

Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing

OA: Pecl, G. T. et al. Redmap Australia: Challenges and Successes With a Large-Scale Citizen Science-Based Approach to Ecological Monitoring and Community Engagement on Climate ChangeFrontiers in Marine Science 6,(2019).

Climate Change, Ocean Acidification, and Ocean Warming

OA: Moullec, F. et al. An End-to-End Model Reveals Losers and Winners in a Warming Mediterranean SeaFrontiers in Marine Science 6, (2019).

Communication and Education

OA: Brennan, C Ashley, M. & Molloy, O. A System Dynamics Approach to Increasing Ocean LiteracyFrontiers in Marine Science 6, (2019).

OA: Fielding, S Copley, J. T. & Mills, R. A. Exploring Our Oceans: Using the Global Classroom to Develop Ocean LiteracyFrontiers in Marine Science 6,(2019).

Distributions of Species

OA: Rooker, J. R. et al. Wide-Ranging Temporal Variation in Transoceanic Movement and Population Mixing of Bluefin Tuna in the North Atlantic OceanFrontiers in Marine Science 6, (2019).

Fisheries and Fisheries Management

OA: Humphries, A. T. et al. Catch Composition and Selectivity of Fishing Gears in a Multi-Species Indonesian Coral Reef FisheryFrontiers in Marine Science6, (2019).

OA: Weber, C. Teresa, Borit, M. & Aschan, M. An Interdisciplinary Insight Into the Human Dimension in Fisheries Models. A Systematic Literature Review in a European Union ContextFrontiers in Marine Science 6, (2019).


OA: Hermes, J. C. et al. A Sustained Ocean Observing System in the Indian Ocean for Climate Related Scientific Knowledge and Societal NeedsFrontiers in Marine Science 6, (2019).

OA: She, J. et al. An Integrated Approach to Coastal and Biological ObservationsFrontiers in Marine Science 6, (2019).

Natural Sciences

OA: Todd, E. V. et al. Stress, novel sex genes, and epigenetic reprogramming orchestrate socially controlled sex change. (2019). doi:10.1126/sciadv.aaw7006


OA: Fiori, L Martinez, E Orams, M. B. & Bollard, B. Effects of whale-based tourism in Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga: Behavioural responses of humpback whales to vessel and swimming tourism activitiesPLOS ONE 14, e0219364 (2019).

OA: Lucrezi, S Milanese, M Cerrano, C. & Palma, M. The influence of scuba diving experience on divers’ perceptions, and its implications for managing diving destinationsPLOS ONE 14, e0219306 (2019).

Vessel Traffic and Tracking, Shipping, and Ports

OA: Joy, R. et al. Potential Benefits of Vessel Slowdowns on Endangered Southern Resident Killer WhalesFrontiers in Marine Science 6, (2019).

OA: Arregui, M. et al. Fat Embolism and Sperm Whale Ship StrikesFrontiers in Marine Science 6, (2019).