University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Hello River Friends!

Here’s a sample of what were up to in 2014 and some hints of what we’ll be doing next:

Northrop Grand Opening

The Institute for Advanced Study (and River Life) moved into Northrop in December 2013 and played a big part in the Northrop Grand Re-opening. Visit for information about Northrop and for information about IAS’ role in the grand re-opening.

The Irony of Carp : An Event at Northrop

The carp are coming! The carp are coming! You may have heard about the inexorable march of Asian carps up the Mississippi River toward the Twin Cities. True, the advance of these aquatic invasive species is ongoing, and scientists are unsure how or if they can be slowed or stopped. Wherever Asian carp have established reproducing populations, they have damaged existing fish populations, as well as harmed boaters with their habit of leaping through the air when startled.

But how damaging might they really be? What is the “nature” of the river into which they are coming in the Twin Cities? How can we strengthen our resilience, and reorient our community involvement to address this threat?

River Futures : Student Visions of the Mississippi

Students from all disciplines were invited to imagine the future of the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities and to create a work that responds to that imagined future.

Water Walks in April

In recognition of Northrop’s re-opening, River Life sponsored a series of Water Walks.  Walks left the front steps of Northrop every Tuesday at noon.  We learned about the campus in a national park, about the community below the bluffs, about ways of engaging the river’s stories, and much, much more.

River Talk

The River Talk blog has continued to attract strong readership, as have River Life’s efforts on Facebook and Twitter. Particularly well received was our Friday Favorites series in which we highlight one of our partners each week.

The River at Our Doorstep

On February 28, we conducted “The River at Our Doorstep,” a daylong workshop on University research, teaching, and programs connected to the Mississippi River.  Around 100 people engaged in highly energized discussions, and many ideas are already beginning to take hold and guide future program development.  To learn more, and read a truly outstanding response to the day by our community partner Shanai Matteson, go to

People, Land and Water

We look forward to teaching in CFANS next fall, a course called “People, Land, and Water: Systems Under Stress” that will explore the meanings of water and how the ways we care for water are expressed through community engagement and policy.

Making the Mississippi: Formulating New Water Narratives for the 21st Century

We are holding “pre-seminar” discussions in anticipation of the 2014-15 John E. Sawyer
seminar “Making the Mississippi:  Formulating new Water Narratives for the 21st Century.”  In February, the first discussion focused on William Cronon’s essay “The Trouble with Wilderness.”  There were 16 in attendance, representing 10 professional disciplines and five colleges/institutes at the U.  For more information, go to

Student Internships and Programs

This year’s cohort of 7 interns in the National Park Service-University Honors Program internship project is well on its way to completing valuable work.  Their projects are making key contributions to the park’s scientific research mission and planning for interpretive programs.

River Rangers

The River Rangers student group has had a busy season too!  From visits to the Science Museum, to discussions with Paddle Forward, they’ve also been busy on the blog and on Twitter.  They are planning a service event for Sunday afternoon, April 27 with Anna Waugh from the Mississippi River Fund to do cleanup and buckthorn removal.

Graduate and Professional Education Assembly

River Life is pleased to feature our work on the River Atlas at the upcoming spring 2014 Graduate and Professional Education Assembly, “Building Digital Capacity in Graduate Education: Tools, Technologies, Best Practices and Issues,” on Wednesday, April 2.

Keeping Informed

As always, our web platforms and social media outlets are central to our work.  We’ve worked hard to integrate what we post to River Talk (our blog) Facebook and Twitter.  Go to the River Life web site to learn more and stay connected.

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.