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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.
I have grown especially interested in water issues. I care about the Mississippi riverfront in Minneapolis, the effects of agriculture on water quality, and the connections people have to their drinking water, lakes, and rivers. So when I went to Germany to study, I took a good look at how the places I visited treated water as part of the landscape.
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.