River University offers undergraduates a close look at the historic Hudson River

A unique opportunity awaits a select group of undergraduate students this summer – a venture titled “River University” that includes sailing the Hudson River aboard the sloop Clearwater, made famous by folksinger Pete Seeger.

River University, a new program by Beacon Insititue for Rivers and Estuaries, a subsidiary of Clarkson University, will be open to 25 undergraduate students, who will attend classes taught by Clarkson faculty at the Beacon Institute’s facilities on the banks of the Hudson River at historic Denning’s Point in Beacon. They also will have a chance to put into practice what they’ve learned in the classroom in five days aboard the sloop Clearwater as she sails the Hudson River.

River University launches July 8 and runs through August 3. River University is aimed at any undergraduate with an interest in the environment. Successful completion of the River University program will earn the undergraduate nine credits. It is an excellent option for students who would like to either lighten their course load during the academic year, or add nine credits during the summer to avoid a fifth undergraduate year.

Three interdisciplinary courses, each worth three credits and transcripted through Clarkson University, will be offered:

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.

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’.”

“River University is designed to provide students with a first-hand experience of the Hudson through three different lenses – ecology, engineering and policy – and then teach them to apply their knowledge to real-world problems,” said Timothy F. Sugrue, Ph.D., Beacon Institute president and chief executive officer and dean of Clarkson University’s School of Business. “Today’s students have a deep sense of responsibility toward the environment – River University will give them the depth and tools to understand the cause and effect relationship between human action and environmental result. We expect that many who enroll will find the experience to be truly life-changing.”

“Clearwater, America’s Environmental Flagship, is proud to join with Beacon Institute and Clarkson University to present River University,” said Jeff Rumpf, Clearwater’s executive director. “Educational sails onboard Clearwater provide hands-on learning experiences and direct contact with the Hudson River, which are key to engaging students as they study and encounter the estuary, its inhabitants, and witness the ecosystem – and prerequisite to our youth creating a personal connection to the environment and ensuring that the mighty Hudson remains America’s most influential river.”

Visit www.RiverUniversity.com for more information about the curriculum and faculty, tuition costs, housing and commuter options, frequently asked questions and the online application and important deadlines. Enrollment in this one-of-a-kind program limited to 25 participants, so early action is encouraged. The rolling admissions process is occurring now through the application deadline of March 15, 2012.

About Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries:
Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, a subsidiary of Clarkson University with offices in Beacon and Troy, New York, is a not for-profit environmental research organization engaging scientists, engineers, educators and policy experts in collaborative work focusing on real-time monitoring of river ecosystems. It aims to make the Hudson Valley a global center for scientific and technological innovation that advances research, education and public policy regarding rivers and estuaries. www.bire.org

About Clarkson University:
Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise. www.clarkson.edu

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