The magazine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran, recently featured an article covering Augsburg College’s River Semester. The River Semester program found a dozen students, two professors, and two wilderness guides using the Mississippi River as a classroom as they traveled its length by canoe and bus. The article includes statements from a number of students about their experience and from Joe Underhill, the political science professor who worked for 15 years to make the trip a reality.
The article quotes student Noah Cameron ’17 as saying of the trip’s appeal, “We could be learning about these places and things in a classroom, but out here makes it much more memorable.”
Ricky Taylor ’17, who documented the trip through photography and video, spoke about the difficulty of balancing his coursework with canoeing and filming the trip. “It wasn’t easy, but through it came some of my most exciting moments from the trip,” he said. “In those split seconds, I got to capture something beautiful, amazing or just down-right fun.”
In addition to studying the ecology, history, and political importance of the river, the experience brought the group together and offered lessons in self-awareness. Hannah Arvold ’18 explains in the article, “We had such a variety of people — students with majors from political science, to film, to biology. We had a blast learning about each other, which in turn helped us learn a lot about ourselves.”
Read: Class on the current on the Lutheran magazine’s site. For more information about the trip see the River Semester site or Augsburg College’s News and Media blog.
Class will be welcomed Sunday night at Union Depot by family, friends
(MINNEAPOLIS) – After a semester living, studying and traveling from St. Paul to New Orleans on the Mississippi River, students in the nation’s first-ever River Semester – created by Professor Joe Underhill – return to Minnesota on Sunday, Dec. 13.
The students, who departed St. Paul on Sept. 1 in 24-foot voyageur canoes for their journey to the Gulf of Mexico, are scheduled to arrive at 10 p.m. at St. Paul Union Depot. The group will be greeted by family, friends, and members of the Augsburg College community.
Visit Amtrak’s website for updated information on the track on which the train will arrive. Click the tab on the box that says “train status” and then look for the link in the bottom of the box that says “check status by city.” Enter “CHI” as the origination point and “MSP” as the destination.
River Semester Gallery Opening
The River Semester will be celebrated at a gallery opening from 5-7 p.m., December 16, and that will feature art, design, and typography that gives visitors a glimpse into the daily life of the River Semester students. The River Semester was incorporated into multiple classrooms led by Professor Christopher Houltberg, and as a way to help students understand how local, national, and global issues to highlight how design can act as a catalyst for change.
Christensen Center Student Art Gallery
Augsburg College, Christensen Center
22nd Avenue South at 7 1/2 Street, Minneapolis
[Updated November 13] — The Augsburg College River Semester, created and led by Joe Underhill, associate professor of political science, departed from St. Paul’s Harriet Island on September 1. As part of the kickoff, the River Semester class was joined by a group of nearly 100 students, parents, high school students and members of the Augsburg College community who paddled in a flotilla of 24-foot voyageur canoes from St. Paul to South St. Paul. Students participating in the semester-long program will earn as many as 16 credits in the arts, humanities, and sciences as they travel nearly 2,000 miles of the 2,350-mile Mississippi River.
The River Semester kickoff garnered a range of attention. Gov. Mark Dayton proclaimed September 1 “Augsburg College River Semester Day” and many media outlets covered the launch of the class.
Since the students and faculty departed on their voyage, print and broadcast media have been sharing the story of this hands-on, interdisciplinary program. In fact, multiple stories have been picked up by the Associated Press and shared through the AP’s member media throughout the nation.
A snapshot of the ongoing media coverage is below. As additional coverage occurs, it will be added to this post.
- The Mississippi River is their classroom, The Hawk Eye, Burlington (Iowa)
- College student trekking down the Mississippi, White Bear (Minnesota) Press
Continue reading “River Semester media attention grows as class travels down-river”
College students have paddled nearly 600 miles from St. Paul to St. Louis en route to New Orleans
After nine weeks living, studying and traveling on the Mississippi River in a flotilla of 24-foot voyageur canoes and paddling nearly 600 miles, a group of Augsburg College students is slated to land on at the Gateway Arch at 1 p.m., Saturday. The students, who departed St. Paul on Sept. 1 as part of their semester-long journey to the Gulf of Mexico, will land in St. Louis just as the city is discussing the grade of D+ given on the Mississippi River Basin “report card” by a consortium of environmental organizations and as the city celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Gateway Arch.
1 p.m., Saturday
Gateway Arch, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, 100 Washington Ave., St. Louis 63102
ABOUT THE RIVER SEMESTER
The students participating in this semester-long learning program will earn as many as 16 credits in biology, environmental studies, health and physical education, and political science. During the trip, students will:
- Conduct a field research project on a topic such as water pollution, the Clean Water Act, sustainable 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.
- Gain skills tailored to meet the needs of partner organizations, including businesses, graduate schools, nonprofits and government agencies.
- Attend town hall meetings and meet with environmental organizations along the river.
- Hear from guest lecturers about invasive carp, habitat restoration, authors Mark Twain and William Faulkner, ancient river civilizations, American Indian communities and their fight for justice, and the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
An overview of the trip can be found on the River Semester website at augsburg.edu/river
ABOUT AUGSBURG COLLEGE
Augsburg College, a private liberal arts college in Minneapolis, offered the River Semester in partnership with Wilderness Inquiry, a nonprofit and inclusive travel provider that specializes in experiential programming and outdoor travel for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Augsburg College offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and nine graduate degrees to nearly 3,600 students of diverse backgrounds at its campuses located in the vibrant center of the Twin Cities and in Rochester. Augsburg College educates students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. The Augsburg experience is supported by an engaged community committed to intentional diversity in its life and work. An Augsburg education is defined by excellence in the liberal arts and professional studies, guided by the faith and values of the Lutheran church, and shaped by its urban and global settings.
Augsburg College students have paddled nearly 600 miles since Sept. 1
(MINNEAPOLIS) – After nine weeks living, studying and traveling on the Mississippi River in 24-foot voyageur canoes and paddling nearly 600 miles, a group of Augsburg College students is slated to land on Saturday at the St. Louis Gateway Arch.
The students, who departed St. Paul on Sept. 1 as part of their semester-long journey to the Gulf of Mexico, will land in St. Louis just as that city is discussing the grade of D+ given on the Mississippi River Basin “report card” by a consortium of environmental organizations and as the city celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Gateway Arch.
“Students on this trip are seeing and learning first-hand some of the reasons communities along the river are grappling with a watershed grade of D+. The river is used for many purposes and this puts a strain on the ecosystem, the infrastructure, and recreation,” said Joe Underhill, associate professor of political science and creator of this high-impact learning program.
“We have students who, for their individual class projects throughout the trip, are taking water quality samples, looking at chemical concentrations in the river, water treatment and light pollution. Paddling and camping along the river, we have observed first-hand problems with water quality, runoff from farms and factories, and current state of the locks and bridges along the way. This is part of a complex set of political considerations around how to balance all these competing interests on the nation’s iconic river.”
Augsburg College President Paul C. Pribbenow will meet with the class in St. Louis on Sunday, Nov. 1 and Monday, Nov. 2. Continue reading “River Semester students to land Oct. 31 at St. Louis Gateway Arch”
Class paddled more than 250 miles since leaving St. Paul on Sept. 1
(MINNEAPOLIS) – The Mississippi River and four, 24-foot voyageur canoes are home and classroom for a group of Augsburg College students who will be in Dubuque from Sept. 28-30 as part of the nation’s first-ever River Semester.
The students, who have paddled more than 250 miles of river since departing St. Paul on Sept. 1 as part of their nearly 2,350-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico, will earn as many as 16 credits in biology, environmental studies, health and physical education, and political science.
“The canoes are a floating classroom where students translate into action what they learn on shore during lectures and from their reading and homework,” said Professor Joe Underhill, creator of this hands-on learning program.
“Each student also is responsible for personal research project, some in partnership with state and national agencies. Some of these projects contribute to the common good, and every project is a chance for teamwork and collaborative excellence.”
The dozen students participating in this hands-on learning program, created by Underhill, is offered in partnership with Wilderness Inquiry, a nonprofit and inclusive travel provider that specializes in experiential programming and outdoor travel for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.
“We know that what happens in the boats transfers to the classroom and life,” said Chad Dayton, director of programs and partner relations for Wilderness Inquiry. “Students develop increased confidence, better relationships with faculty, and throughout their college careers, they have a shared experience to refer back to that can help with problem solving.” Continue reading “Dubuque a stop for college students studying and traveling Mississippi River in nation’s first-ever River Semester”
Media invited to paddle in flotilla of 24-foot voyageur canoes from Harriet Island to South St. Paul
(MINNEAPOLIS) – A group of nearly 100 students, parents, high school students and members of the Augsburg College community will launch the nation’s first-ever River Semester on Sept. 1 at Kelley’s Landing on Harriet Island in St. Paul by paddling a flotilla of 24-foot voyageur canoes from St. Paul to South St. Paul.
Members of the media are invited to participate in the kickoff event and to paddle in one of 13 voyageur canoes with students and guests to South St. Paul.
Guests and media will be transported back to Kelley’s Landing and Augsburg College.
The 16 students in the Augsburg College River Semester will continue to travel nearly 2,000 of the 2,350-mile-long-Mississippi River from St. Paul to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. The group will live and study on the river until mid-December.
Members of the media can reserve paddling spots by noon, Thursday, Aug. 27, by contacting Stephanie Weiss, director of news and media services for Augsburg College at email@example.com. Continue reading “Media Advisory: River Semester launch is Sept. 1 at St. Paul’s Harriet Island”
Students, from Sept. 1 to mid-December, will study, live, travel more than 1,795 miles on Mississippi from St. Paul to the Gulf of Mexico
(MINNEAPOLIS) – A class of 16 Augsburg College students led by Professor Joe Underhill will depart Sept. 1 in 24-foot voyageur canoes to spend the semester studying, researching and living on the river. The students taking part in the nation’s first-ever River Semester will travel nearly 2,000 miles of the 2,350-mile-long Mississippi River to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. The group will depart from Kelley’s Landing on St. Paul’s Harriet Island in a launch event that is open to the public.
Students participating in this hands-on, interdisciplinary program will earn as many as 16 credits studying biology, environmental studies, health and physical education, and political science. Continue reading “Back-to-school for 16 Augsburg students means traveling the length of Mississippi River as part of nation’s first-ever River Semester”
The online media resource Bring Me The News shared a compilation of information about the Augsburg College River Semester, a three-and-a-half month program in which students and faculty members will traverse the Mississippi River from St. Paul to New Orleans while studying topics in the arts, humanities, and sciences. As the story noted, “Students will sleep in campsites instead of dorm rooms and will paddle rather than walk to their classes this fall.”
Augsburg College’s first-ever River Semester will be an opportunity for students to spend the fall and early winter months traveling from St. Paul to New Orleans in 24-foot voyageur canoes on the Mississippi River. Participants will study topics ranging from ecology to history to literature.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently discussed this experiential education opportunity in the article, “Augsburg preparing to launch ‘River Semester’ on the Mississippi.“