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Program Details


Course offerings:

  • POL 241 Environmental and River Politics (meets Liberal Arts Foundation for Social and Behavioral Sciences)
  • ENV 310 Environmental Studies Field Seminar.  Study grassroots organizing and meeting with stakeholders throughout the watershed.
  • POL 410: Democracy in the American Heartland. A study of the state of democracy in America, revisiting  Alexis de Tocqueville’s classic Democracy in America
  • ENV 120: Environmental Science (Lab Science)
  • BIO 495 Topics: Ecology of Rivers, Streams, and Estuaries (with lab)
  • POL/ENV/BIO 499 Directed Research Project (possible Keystone credit)
  • POL/ENV 399 Internship (with a river-related organization; some internships are paid)
  • PHY 101: Astronomy (field-based, hybrid course)
  • ART 221 (Sculpture) or ART 257 (Painting)
  • Other courses and specialized curriculum available by special arrangement in fields such as History, Film, English, Communications, and Business

Plus everyone is enrolled in:

  • WEL 120 Lifetime Activity: Canoeing
  • Augsburg Experience credit

Program Costs

For Augsburg University students, the cost is regular full-time tuition for four courses (16-19 credits) plus a $7,500 program fee covering all room and board, supplies, and transportation for the trip. Students must supply sleeping bags, pad, and appropriate outdoor clothing including rain gear (tents and all other equipment and supplies provided by the program).  Full financial aid applies.  More details can be found here.

For students from other colleges and universities, students pay $9,600 tuition for a minimum of 12 and maximum of 18 credits, plus the $7,500 program fee.  Depending on institutional arrangements, the program fee is paid either directly to Augsburg University or to their home institution (who then pays the tuition fee to the River Semester program).  The cost of the program (tuition as arranged with the home institution, plus the program fee) covers the cost for 12-18 credits (3 – 4.5 courses) from Augsburg University and the associated travel, room, and board costs for the full semester program, (excluding travel to Minneapolis at the beginning of the term, or returning home from Minneapolis at the end of the term).  Contact your study abroad office for details on pricing, registration, and financial aid.  Study abroad staff with questions about payment arrangements should contact Leah Spinoza de Vega, Director of Augsburg Abroad, ( or 612-330-1650).

Program Director:

Prof. Joe Underhill has been engaged in environmental politics for the last 30 years, from the Hudson River to San Francisco Bay to the Mississippi River.  Prof. Underhill teaches in Political Science, Environmental Studies, and International Relations, and in 2010-12 he served as the Batalden Faculty Scholar in Applied Ethics.  His experiential and interdisciplinary courses regularly take students off campus participation in Model UN in New York City, and studying comparative environmental politics in locations including Egypt, New Zealand, Nicaragua, and Tanzania. He has written and presented on the intersection of political psychology, security, and the environment and is author of the book Death and the Statesman (Palgrave, 2001).  His most recent research examines the relationship between urban sustainability and environmental pedagogy. He has taken students out on the Mississippi for the past decade studying the impact of human activity on the river ecosystem and meeting with river rats and local activists in communities from St. Paul to the Gulf of Mexico.

In addition we have numerous guest lecturers and site visits with field scientists and naturalists along the length of the river.

Staff and Partner Organizations:

The expedition is staffed by a field instructor specializing in stream ecology and two seasoned staff from Wilderness Inquiry for the trip from the Twin Cities to St. Louis.

 Interested in applying?

Contact  612-330-1318