Seeking Clearer Waters
students take pollution action on The Chip
Despite local insistence on continuing to jump off cliffs and float down the Chippewa River, it has not escaped anyone’s notice that pollution is an enduring problem in the Lower Chippewa Valley. But, lets be honest, what have most of us done other than complain a little and continue as we have always done? Well, there’s going to be a new force in town.
Thanks to a grant from the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board and the UW-Eau Claire BluGold Commitment Fund, Ruth Cronje of the English department, Paula Kleintjes-Neff of biology, Garry Running of geography/anthropology, and Donald Mowry of social work and service learning will now have the means to address this problem in the newly offered Environmental Research and Civic Action course this fall at the university.
Co-taught by the aforementioned professors, the course is a multi-disciplinary learning experience covering the basics of water pollution in the Lower Chippewa Valley – from the cause-and-effect of our human contributions to what we can do to address the problem. The project will hopefully pave the way for other environmental courses in the future.
The goal is not just to make students aware of pollution, but to push for action and involvement. According to Cronje, this course will “challenge students to adopt and develop a multitude of civic agency skills, helping them to become proactive in connecting with local environmental agencies, encouraging community action outside the classroom.”
While the intent of the university’s service learning requirements and First Year Experience classes is to get students out in the community, it is ultimately up to them to take the first step. This class, however, forces that step. “I always thought it takes a community to raise a university,” Cronje said, “And so far our community members have gone far beyond the call of duty with this class.” Already, several community members have met with the class to hear student proposals and provide feedback, resources, and ideas.
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