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River Semester

“There is an element to this trip where we never leave class. It’s amazing to be able to have conversations with people that not only make you question and think about yourself and what you believe, but also think about what you have never thought about before. I have never wanted to learn so much more about everything.”
                                                                         — River Semester student journal entry

paddle from the Headwaters to the Gulf of mexico as part of the 2019 River SemesteR. Scholarships of up to $3,000 available. Apply HERE (March 15 Deadline)

  • a unique, fully-immersive educational experience
  • travel the Mississippi River from the headwaters to the Gulf of Mexico on a 100-day canoe expedition
  • customized curriculum and courses to fit your interests and graduation requirements
  • develop a field research project on topics such as urban environmental justice, the Clean Water Act, agriculture in the watershed, political organizing around environmental issues, race relations and social justice, or urban riverfront revitalization
  • explore the history, literature, food, music, and culture of the Mississippi River through the American heartland
  • gain skills tailored to fit the needs of partner businesses and institutions including graduate schools, nonprofits, and government agencies
  • meet with local experts, “river rats,” and environmental organizations along the river
  • hear from guest lecturers on topics such Mark Twain, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, ancient river civilizations, American Indian communities and their fight for justice, and the urban resilience in the age of climate change

Program partners include Wilderness Inquiry, Quapaw Outfitters, Louisiana Marine Consortium, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, Friends of the Mississippi River, America’s Waterway, Big Muddy Adventures, the Mississippi: An Anthropocene River, Augustana College (Rock Island, IL), the University of Minnesota’s River Life Program, and  Works Progress.

Readings and Resources

Check out this slide deck of “Tales from the river”

Article on the River Semester in Open Rivers by Program Director Joe Underhill (online journal published at the University of Minnesota)

Essay on the Paradox of Water in Open Rivers

Blog post on why we have a river semester.