By Blair Stewig, Staff Writer
The River Semester is back and better than ever! Augsburg will launch its second expedition in the Fall of 2018 with 18 students having the opportunity to learn all about one of the world’s most iconic rivers. Students who end up on the ride will not regret their choice, and based on what we hear from anyone who is already graduated from college, they all wish they could have “done something like this” while they were still in school.
The River Semester is a study-away program that allows students to learn more about the Mississippi River, the states and communities along the river, environmental policy, environmental science and so much more. As students spend the semester canoeing and camping along the river, they will learn directly from the environment in which they live. Students will spend 100 days on the river canoeing as far as they can rather than having a set destination. This schedule will be more relaxed than the previous River Semester and allows students to spend more time on the river, and this should give the trip a “go with the flow” feel. Wilderness Inquiry –– a guiding company located in the Twin Cities –– will provide the Voyageur canoes, gear and fantastic field staff.
Students take up to 16 credits, or 4 courses of 6 offered courses, plus WEL 002 (lifetime fitness canoeing credit) and definitely fulfill the “Augsburg Experience” graduation requirement. The courses that students can choose from include POL 241: Environmental and River Politics, ENV 120 with a lab, ENV 310: a field research seminar with a focus on conservation work, POL/ENV 499: an integrative final project for an independent research project carried out by the student and supervised by a team of faculty, and/or two other electives that can be an internship with an organization, a self-designed class or an independent study. If you are interested in an independent study, you will likely be able to design a project in art, film, biology, chemistry, history, English, or urban studies, depending on students’ majors, graduation requirements or interests. There will also be tons of visiting lecturers from the universities and research centers all along the river.
This River Semester will feature guest lectures along the over 1000 miles the group will paddle. The expedition will end up somewhere on the lower Mississippi River, likely having Thanksgiving in Memphis and continuing on from there to the heart of Delta Blues country in Clarksdale, Miss. Another awesome feature of the new River Semester is that after the launch on Aug. 20, the students will make a journey back to Minneapolis to share their experiences at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum hosted at Augsburg in September.
The program recently received a generous grant from the Pentair Company, which provides a limited number of grants of up to $5,000 toward the cost of the program fee. The earlybird deadline for the River Semester 2018 is Dec. 15, and this will save you $500, so now is the time to take a limit break from finals stress, and daydream about paddling down Ol’ Man River. Visit the Augsburg Abroad website and get registered. The regular deadline to register for the trip is Mar. 15. If you have any questions about the trip or would like to learn more, email Dr. Joe Underhill at underhil@augsburg. edu or stop by the Augsburg Abroad office in the lower level of the Christensen Center. You can also watch video footage from the previous River Semester by YouTubing “Augsburg College River Semester.”
This article first appeared in the Friday, December 1, 2017, Edition of The Echo.