research on a boatBeing good and wise stewards of the Great Lakes is critical to the future of our region. In order to be good stewards, we must learn and teach about our natural resources.

In recent years, there have been a number of efforts to define ocean and Great Lakes literacy. The Ocean Literacy Network — which includes the Great Lakes — has been working to identify and describe the science content and processes related to the ocean and Great Lakes. This helps define what should be included in all future science education at the local, state and national levels. An important breakthrough in this process was coming to a consensus about what it means for a person to be ocean or Great Lakes literate.

Great Lakes literacy is an understanding of the Great Lakes’ influences on you and your influence on the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes Literacy Principles

  1. The Great Lakes, bodies of fresh water with many features, are connected to each other and to the world ocean.
  2. Natural forces formed the Great Lakes; the lakes continue to shape the features of their watershed.
  3. The Great Lakes influence local and regional weather and climate.
  4. Water makes Earth habitable; fresh water sustains life on land.
  5. The Great Lakes support a broad diversity of life and ecosystems.
  6. The Great Lakes and humans in their watersheds are inextricably interconnected.
  7. Much remains to be learned about the Great Lakes.
  8. The Great Lakes are socially, economically, and environmentally significant to the region, the nation and the planet.

A Great Lakes Literate Person:

  • Understands the essential principles and fundamental concepts about the characteristics, functioning and value of the Great Lakes.
  • Can communicate accurately about the Great Lakes’ influence on systems and people in and beyond their watershed.
  • Is able to make informed and responsible decisions regarding the Great Lakes and the resources of their watershed.

Further Reading