New “River University” Set for Summer Term

Beacon Institute, Clarkson U. and Clearwater team up to offer unique courses for close study of the Hudson

Undergraduate students with an interest in environmental studies and issues will want to check out the new offerings of “River University,” a summer program offered by the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, a subsidiary of Clarkson University. The program, which includes practical application of learning while sailing the Hudson River aboard the sloop Clearwater, will be open to 25 undergraduate students who will attend classes taught by Clarkson University faculty at the Beacon Institute’s facilities at Denning’s Point along the river in Beacon.

Classes begin July 8 and run through Aug. 3. Participants will earn nine credits after successful completion of the program.  Applications are being accepted now. The deadline is March 15.

Three interdisciplinary courses, each worth three credits will be offered:

John Cronin (Photo by Lisa Berg)

Applied Environmental Policy: The Clean Water Act, taught by John Cronin, the first Beacon Institute Fellow at Clarkson University and for 17 years, the Hudson Riverkeeper, which earned him Time magazine’s title “Hero for the Planet.” Cronin has been an advocate, lobbyist, legislative and congressional aide, author (with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.) of The Riverkeepers and filmmaker, whose film, The Last Rivermen was named outstanding documentary of the year by the Motion Picture Academy Foundation. Students in this course will examine the history of American environmental law and the development of contemporary environmental policy, using Hudson River issues to illustrate their practical applications. Students will learn the practical aspects of decision-making and citizen participation through simulation exercises culminating in a mock public hearing on a key environmental issue that examines the role of law, economics, science and technology and advocacy in the execution of policy.

Tom Langen

The Ecology of American Rivers, taught by Tom Langen, Ph.D., associate professor in the departments of biology and psychology at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York. Students will learn how rivers function; become familiar with the organism and natural communities of the Hudson River watershed; and understand how humans impact rivers and how that impact can be managed to minimize the negative consequences on the environment and human health and welfare.

Green Infrastructure for Non-point Source Pollution Control, taught by Shane Rogers, Ph.D., an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Clarkson University who also serves as a special research environmental engineer at the National Risk Management Laboratory of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Clean Water Act, which observes its 40th anniversary in 2012, has helped control water pollution from “point sources,” such as discharges from sewage treatment plants and industrial sites. Rivers, such as the Hudson, also encounter pollution from “non-point sources” – the pollutants picked up when rain or melting snow carry natural pollutants from the ground to nearby rivers. Students will learn how historical uses of the Hudson have shaped current water quality and ecosystem challenges. They’ll also describe and design engineered landscape modifications and green infrastructure for storm water management that may be used to reduce the problems of non-point source pollution in both urban and agricultural landscapes.

“What better summer classroom for college students than the Hudson River, a birthplace of the modern environmental movement?” said John Cronin. “River University will examine the environmental law, science, and technology that revolutionize the way we understand and protect ecosystems across the nation. Only forty years ago many thought the Hudson was dead. Today, students can learn from it the hands-on skills that made it one of the world’s great environmental success students, and inspired journalist Bill Moyers to call the Hudson ‘America’s First River’.”  For more information on the program go to: RiverUniversity.com.

Photos courtesy of River University except as noted.


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