VCU leads effort to launch national consortium of universities offering hands-on river education
August 2, 2019
(Center for Environmental Studies faculty push the limits of hands-on undergraduate education with new collaborations and NSF funding opportunities. One of the key RiVER Field Network workshops will be held at the VCU Rice Rivers Center.).
By Brian McNeil, University Public Affairs
Rivers provide essential resources and support diverse biological communities. They are also among the most imperiled ecosystems. Managing fresh waters for human life support as well as biodiversity will require integrative approaches that span traditional STEM disciplines
To help address this need, a number of colleges and universities across the United States — including Virginia Commonwealth University — are using rivers as immersive, natural classrooms for interdisciplinary STEM learning across biology, hydrology, geology and the interplay of human and natural systems.
For example, VCU students traversed the James River for 19 days this summer to learn about the intersection of human and natural history of the river and its watershed. Last summer, VCU students took a similar expedition to the wilderness of Idaho’s Lower Salmon River. Last fall, VCU Environmental Studies teamed up with Lynn Crump of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation to offer a course on scenic natural resource policy that involved a field assessment of the Chickahominy River. In addition, the university has partnered with the River Management Society to establish a River Studies and Leadership Certificate that offers training in river-based science, policy, conservation, education and recreation for undergraduate students who aspire to be river professionals.
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