Summer Course: Communities and Watersheds

During summer 2012, we offered an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to examine the interface of communities and watersheds and the associated issues of stewardship and sustainability. Students participated in the Thornapple River Expedition 2012,which took place August 6th-11th. SY/EN402 and EN 502 used the Thornapple River as an example of the social significance of waterways in U.S. community development.
The Grand River The Grand River
The Summer 2012 course covered 68 miles of the Thornapple River, meeting each morning before the days paddle began, and then for an hour each evening for additional course content and reflection on the days’ activities.  The class benefitted from programs and presentations provided by the course instructor, community members, and watershed and sustainability experts. Experiencing community development from the water offers a unique perspective that most people don't consider.  
The content of the course was designed to support majors in Sociology, Education, Environmental Studies, Geography, Urban Studies, and Community Leadership. It was offered as an undergraduate course in Sociology, and both an undergraduate and graduate course in Education.
The Grand River Mallard Ducks on the Pigeon River
Students were graded on demonstrated understanding of the relationship between communities and watersheds. To do this, there was an in-class exam on the final day of the course, and all students completed a 15-page paper that significantly incorporated content from the course (speakers, readings, videos, experiential learning on the river). Graduate students additionally completed a literature review and developed a K-12 course curriculum.

Students WERE NOT graded on how well they kayak. The kayaking abilities of class members differ, and did not impact participation points.

Participation in the course required a recreational kayak, kayak paddle, personal flotation device (PFD), and registration for the Thornapple River Expedition 2012. 

Dr. Kathy Kremer About the instructor: Dr. Kathy Kremer is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Aquinas. She holds a B.S. and M.S. from Minnesota State University-Mankato, a Ph.D. in Rural Sociology from Iowa State University, and worked in community organizations and community developments from 1982-1997. Specifically, she's a community sociologist most interested in community development and change.  A Minnesota native, Dr. Kremer has paddled a lot of water since her first experience in an aluminum Boy Scout canoe in the early 1970s. With a preference for river-based recreational kayaking she enjoys both remote and urban water.