Like Open Rivers, I have long tried to answer the question of the value of river history and how can it be put to work to achieve environmental justice. While we each have a home or favorite river that captivates us, there is a broader, if unspoken, understanding of rivers and the role they play in shaping our history. Last fall I organized a conference that attempted to address this challenge. Called All Water Has a Memory: Rivers and American History, the conference featured presenters from academia, nature writing, and environmental and community activism who shared their history and experience of individual rivers in three sessions: Slavery and Freedom, Indigenous Resistance, and The Environmental Movement…
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In spring 2020, two faculty members from the University of Minnesota Morris each incorporated a book called The Relentless Business of Treaties: How Indigenous Land Became U.S. Property by Martin Case into their course curricula. The book focuses on demystifying the stories and interconnectedness of the white, male treaty-signers responsible for dispossessing Indigenous peoples of their land. The following article shares their perspectives and reflections on teaching this text.
Water has long played an important role in my life. In fact, it played a role in my very beginning. Like all of you, I first lived in a water environment, then was born into this world. A few weeks later, I was baptized with water. This sacrament joins me with many others that share my faith traditions, and water is sacred in many traditions.
A concern for climate change has burst onto the national media, scientific literatures, and other discourses over the past year. As someone who teaches in design- and natural resource-oriented fields, I feel an obligation to equip my students with critical awarenesses of the patterns, as well as a sense of what they can do, professionally and personally, to face this crisis.
In his book, How Racism Takes Place, George Lipsitz (2011: 5) contends that “race is produced by space,” and that “it takes places for racism to take place.” While Lipsitz focuses primarily on the intersection of race and space in urban settings, racialized spatial practices in rural environments can be just as devastating to communities of color, if not more so.
While there are many ways of approaching community-engaged research, the way that research projects are set up rarely provides the time and resources to create a research deliverable for community partners. This needs to change. Creating research products for academia and partners advances both science and the conservation work of communities.
In December of 2016, I went on the journey of a lifetime to kwaZulu-Natal, South Africa on a faculty-led excursion titled “Summits to Sea” with Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Along with nine other students and two faculty members, we traversed across South Africa from the source of the great rivers in the Drakensburg Mountains all the way to their opening in the Indian Ocean. For three weeks, we hiked, swam, and kayaked our way through the various water systems that affect the economy, ecology, and public health in South Africa.
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…