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The River is the Classroom

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…

One Water: A New Era in Water Management

Under the leadership of the US Water Alliance, a multi-sector coalition of leaders from more than 940 industry, government, and community organizations has joined forces to develop and advance practical solutions to the toughest water challenges facing our nation. As part of the “One Water for America” initiative, this diverse group collaborated to create the recently published One Water for America Policy Framework…

Review of Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene

There is something quite embarrassing about reading a book in public that appears to be upside down. The collaborative piece of work known as Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet is separated into two parts: “Monsters and the Art of Living” and “Ghosts on a Damaged Planet.” The reader must physically turn the book upside down to get from one part to the other. On each cover’s bottom right corner, a hint of the other side’s cover is present…

Lab on the River – Snapshots of the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory

The St. Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL), which falls under the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota (UMN), is one of several historic buildings along the Minneapolis riverfront. Constructed in 1938 using funds from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), SAFL utilizes the 50-foot elevation drop over the St. Anthony Falls to bring water into the building for use in experiments and research of fluid dynamics…

Fields: The Transformation and Healing of the Whitewater Valley

They say hindsight is 20/20. Farmers of the past didn’t have information about environmentally friendly agricultural techniques. The farming techniques used today to reduce erosion and other negative environmental effects were developed as we learned from agriculturally derived disasters. Situated in the Whitewater River Valley less than 10 miles from the confluence with the Mississippi River, Beaver, Minnesota was one such town that suffered…

Water @ UMN Roundup

As the editors put this issue on “Water @ UMN” together, we realized that the breadth, complexity, and variety of water-related work at the University of Minnesota could never be encompassed in a few articles. Accordingly, we sent a prompt out as widely as we could, asking water scholars to tell us, in a few paragraphs, what it was about their work that they were most excited about. The short pieces that follow contain some of their responses…

Water @ UMN Roundup

As the editors put this issue on “Water @ UMN” together, we realized that the breadth, complexity, and variety of water-related work at the University of Minnesota could never be encompassed in a few articles. Accordingly, we sent a prompt out as widely as we could, asking water scholars to tell us, in a few paragraphs, what it was about their work that they were most excited about. The short pieces that follow contain some of their responses…

Water @ UMN Roundup

As the editors put this issue on “Water @ UMN” together, we realized that the breadth, complexity, and variety of water-related work at the University of Minnesota could never be encompassed in a few articles. Accordingly, we sent a prompt out as widely as we could, asking water scholars to tell us, in a few paragraphs, what it was about their work that they were most excited about. The short pieces that follow contain some of their responses…

Eyes on Large Lakes

“A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.” So said H.D. Thoreau in Walden, conjuring an image of human eyes peering intently into Earth’s eyes, and learning something profound in the process. Indeed, who among us hasn’t gazed into one of these watery eyes of Earth, into a lake’s mysterious depths, and had their souls stirred, their curiosity piqued?…

The Future of Agriculture in a Water-Rich State

In 1920, Minnesota held 2.4 million people and 132,744 farms. Corn production was near 100 million bushels per year. By 1929, 18.5 million acres were under cultivation. Nearly 100 years later, the state has 5.4 million people, 74,500 farms, and 26 million acres of farmland. Annual production of corn is about 1.5 billion bushels and soybean is about 380 million bushels. Over that century, agricultural technology and infrastructure changed profoundly…