Politics on the Mississippi River
What better way to learn about the Mississippi River than to spend some time on the river itself? In the summer and fall, Augsburg political science professor Joe Underhill teaches students about environmental issues and policy-making using the river as classroom. Underhill’s aim is to get students to explore how cities and farms in the watershed have affected the river, and how successful policies have helped clean it up. The class focus on the river reflects the Augsburg emphasis on working directly on issues in its urban setting and local community.
The Environmental and River Politics course explores national and international debates about the politics of the relationship between humans and the natural world. Through trips to sites along the river, including a 10-day canoe trip on the river, and visits to local environmental organizations, students examine environmental problems and how those problems are manifest on campus and in the city. Plans are in the works to expand this exciting educational offering to a full semester program traveling the length of the river all the way to New Orleans (stay tuned!)
Matti Minasie (’11), a biology and environmental studies double major, says the course helped her “see the environment through the political lens” and gave her a better understanding of how political attitudes and policies continue to shape the world around us. “We have changed the river so much in terms of ecology and its natural flow, it’s sort of scary how much power we have given ourselves in determining what’s ‘best’ for the river and the economy,” she said.
This is just one of many interdisciplinary environmental studies courses offered as part of the campus’s active engagement with these important issues. Augsburg has made a strong commitment to educate environmentally aware students, faculty, staff, and community. For more information on environmental stewardship at Augsburg, go to www.augsburg.edu/green.
Auggies meeting with officials from the State Department of Natural Resources as part of their 10-day paddle down the Mississippi.