University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

A University in a National Park on a World-Class River

The University of Minnesota is a world-class comprehensive teaching and research university located in a National Park—the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area—overlooking one of the great rivers of the world. Yet the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities is a landscape that is both widely loved and highly stressed.

We see rivers and we love rivers but we don’t really understand them. Our knowledge of what rivers mean is dependent on recollected passages from famous books. Our understanding of how we use rivers depends on there being sufficient water so that those practices are not threatened. Changing climate and social patterns are calling both the ways we use rivers and express our love for rivers into question.

We work to understand the ways we stress the river, how we have expressed our love for it, and what we can do to safeguard its future. Taking strategic advantage of our location along one of the great rivers of the world, we seek to create learning, research, and engagement opportunities that will help establish inclusive and sustainable rivers.

We have three main program areas; Learning, Research, and Engagement.


River Life in the News

Contact Us!
Send us a note at to make suggestions for other places we should look, media to track, and stories to tell!
River Life in Video
Come Along for a Water Walk with Kare11 and River Life, and see Gifts at Work: The Mississippi River by the University of Minnesota Foundation
Open Rivers: Rethinking the Mississippi
A joint project of River Life, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the University of Minnesota Libraries, Open Rivers is an interdisciplinary online journal that recognizes the Mississippi River as a space for timely and critical conversations about people, community, water, and place.