The Mississippi River flows just beyond the buildings on the University of Minnesota’s East Bank where my office is. Most days, as I have done throughout my 16 years here, I walk along the river to the classrooms where I teach. It would be hard to find a person on campus who doesn’t share a nostalgic fondness for the river as we glance at it, drive over it, and jog and bike across it. We are happy to claim the river under the bridges, across the…
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The aspiring young undergraduate scientists envision fieldwork as a romantic escape from the office cubicle, classroom desk, and seemingly endless pile of homework. Working alongside experts in their field, they anticipate working in the wildest regions of the world: dense tropical forests, remote mountain ranges, and distant glacial rivers. They see themselves on the forefront of groundbreaking discoveries: truly shattering the scientific community with a cure for Malaria, discovery of a new species, or theory of planetary evolution.
What happens when you leave the confines of the classroom, step away from the whiteboards, data projectors, and PowerPoints, and move into the richness of the world itself? In August 2015, a group 17 students, staff, and faculty from Augsburg College loaded four 24-foot voyageur canoes with their gear and started paddling down the Mississippi River as part of the first River Semester.
A major piece of Twin Cities news in summer 2015 was the closure of the St. Anthony Falls Lock on the Upper Mississippi. This garnered a lot of attention, and raised many questions from the community. At the time, I was taking a full-time summer course load, and was more worried about drowning in my chemistry and philosophy homework than about local river news.
According to state officials, Coastal Virginia is home to the second largest U.S. population at risk from climate change (second only to the people of New Orleans). Because of the added problem of land subsidence, sea levels along the Virginia coast are rising faster than the global average, with some estimates projecting a relative sea level rise of two to five feet within 100 years.