Public Programming and Lectures

The following are examples of annual and ongoing educational activities organized and offered by GSO’s outreach programs:

Office of Marine Programs
Students join scientists aboard the Cap’n Bert for a fish trawl. Photo credit: Office of Marine Programs.

The Narragansett Bay Classroom is a vehicle through which the Office of Marine Programs offers a variety of marine and environmental short courses, lectures, tours, field trips, interpretive programs, camps, and training opportunities for people of all ages led by a team of Outreach Scientists, graduate students from GSO and other URI colleges who share their expertise and enthusiasm with thousands of program attendees each year.

Beachcombing for Families is a free two-hour summertime beach walk led by Outreach Scientists. Designed for children accompanied by adults, the program explores Fort Getty, one of Rhode  Island’s unique coastal beaches and provides young people an opportunity to have their questions answered about the  plants, animals, and minerals found on the beach.

Historic South Ferry Walking Tours are annual free interpretive programs for adult audiences featuring photos and stories of the historic South Ferry area and an interpretive walk to the site of the old ferry landing at the foot of South Ferry Road, the remains of WWI military bunkers overlooking Narragansett Bay, and through the campus of the Graduate School of Oceanography.

The Inner Space Center offers a week-long Underwater Exploration Camp, an experiential day camp for children/teens ages 11-15. Camp participants will become ocean explorers, building and testing a variety of oceanographic technologies, such as remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and hydrophones (underwater microphones). They are surrounded by live feeds of video, audio, and other oceanographic data from active expeditions. Participants witness amazing ocean discoveries and engage with ocean scientists involved in active missions exploring the unknown ocean.

The Metcalf Institute Annual Public Lecture Series showcases nationally recognized experts on environmental issues, public policy, and media coverage to promote public understanding of pressing science and environmental issues. The week-long series coincides with the Institute’s Annual Workshop for Journalists.

Rhode Island Sea Grant is one of the sponsors of its Annual Community Lecture Series and Coastweeks. Lectures focus on a range of marine and coastal topics, including seafood. Guided walking tours of coastal areas, and educational boat trips complement the Coastweeks offerings for the general public, with the goal of fostering a better understanding of coastal processes and improved resource management.

The Annual Baird Symposium organized by Rhode Island Sea Grant offers a venue for scientists, resource managers, and concerned stakeholders to focus on environmental and economic issues relevant to Rhode Island coastal communities and beyond, and to bring state-of-the-art science to policy discussions. Recent symposia topics focused on shellfish in Rhode Island, international marine spatial planning, and seafood sustainability.

Charles and Marie Fish, namesakes of the Annual Fish Lectures, are pictured aboard the Arcturus during a deep sea oceanographic expedition, 1925. Courtesy of Pell Marine Library.
Charles and Marie Fish, namesakes of the Annual Fish Lectures, are pictured aboard the Arcturus during a deep sea oceanographic expedition, 1925. Courtesy of Pell Marine Library.

Since 1990, the Annual Charles and Marie Fish Lecture in Oceanography has brought noted speakers to GSO to share their knowledge and perspectives on marine science topics with the URI community and the public. Named in memory of Drs. Charles and Marie Fish, who established the University’s first marine biological program at URI in 1935 and eventually a graduate program in oceanography at the Narragansett Marine Laboratory, which later became URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography, the lecture is complemented by a Roundtable Discussion affording faculty and graduate students from across the University and the state an opportunity for additional interaction with invited guest speakers.

Each Spring the Coastal Institute hosts the Annual Scott W. Nixon Lecture, an event in memory of a very influential GSO faculty member who helped shape our understanding of coastal and marine ecosystems.