The University of Georgia has partnered with Cape Ann Whale Watch since 1999 when the first Discovery Retreat -- Learning & Teaching about Whales occurred. Click here for an article about the whale class:
The retreat is for experienced or pre-service educators of all audiences. The purpose of the Discovery Retreat is to promote environmentalism through the practice of contextual teaching and learning among teachers and their students. It is our practical and philosophic belief that teachers can play an important role in the preservation of our environment. We want to provide educators with resources on whale and marine life that can be used to incorporate environmental conservation into every classroom. Teachers reach a vast national audience of future consumers and advocates for environmental protection on a daily basis.
This retreat has taken place almost yearly from 1999 through 2010 out of collaboration between the UGA College of Education and Cape Ann Whale Watch. Ms. Cynde McInnis and Dr. John Schell, along with Ms. Judy Milton of UGA, have jointly created a graduate and undergraduate class on situated cognition theory that provides the core content for the Discovery Retreat. The field-based course uses a community format for exploring learning and teaching for environmental awareness. The official title of the course at The University of Georgia is Situated Cognition Theory and Implications for Teaching. It is offered as a split-level course for pre-service education majors and for in-service teachers and adult educators. As the title of the course implies, the situation or context is important to how learners learn and use knowledge. From the beginning, the course has served students in the College of Education in the departments of Occupational Studies and Adult Education. Often students from other majors such as instructional technology, educational psychology, middle school education and a variety of students from math and science education have taken the course.
In 2002, the course was modified to transition to the institute format. Beginning that year the content was more focused on the preparation and development of teachers who are committed to improving the ocean environment through the efforts of themselves and their students. While the focus is on school teachers, the founders of the institute broadly construe the concept of teaching. That is, almost anyone with a professional interest in teaching and learning from any academic or vocational discipline is welcome to participate in the Discovery Retreats.