What, Why, How: River Life in a Series of Snapshots
If “brevity is the soul of wit,” we aren’t very witty, seeing as how teachers are accustomed to speaking for an entire hour-long class period!
But we’ll try this “shorter is better” motif in an updated introduction to our program:The University of Minnesota enjoys a unique location: a world-class, comprehensive teaching, research and service university located in a national park on one of the great rivers of the world.
River Life takes strategic advantage of that location by serving as a resource for students, faculty, and staff who want to make the park and the river part of their University experience, whether through recreation, service, research, or learning.
Our community-oriented approach to research and teaching emphasizes that the community has many sources of expertise that complement the academic knowledge found on campus.
Our basic work model is to forge collaborations between off-campus partners who work in sustainability, inclusive planning, and resilience, and faculty and students who share those commitments.
Our students, then, are modeling new forms of learning that are engaged, experiential, and interdisciplinary.
We are committed to the notion that future river managers will have to be conversant in three areas: science, policy, and community engagement. It will not be enough to know only one, say, hydrology or water resource policy. Future effective river leaders will have to know the scientific basis of their river they work with, the policy, planning and design infrastructure by which change is implemented, and be able to tell stories to the community in order to rally support.
We use digital media as both a source for the diverse information we need, and also as a means of spreading the word: web-based platforms are both microphone and speaker.
Our stretch of the Mississippi River, the 72 miles of the Mississippi National River in the Twin Cities metropolitan region, serves as a laboratory for the future of large urban rivers across the country and around the world. We support our community partners by telling stories and sharing best practices from comparable situations elsewhere; we contribute to regional and national conversations on river futures by highlighting the best of what we’re doing right here in our backyard.