After a semester of studying water management and conducting field work, several students accompanied Biology Professor Tatiana Tatum and Philosophy Professor Thomas Thorp to Southern Idaho in late June and early July. There, they worked alongside the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, a local organization fighting to prevent mining pollution in area waters.
The students also assisted the Coalition in restoring a trail and went backpacking through Yellowstone National Park.
Students began the semester by taking samples of Southwest Chicago’s Lake Marion on the SXU campus, followed by the Little Calumet River in the south suburbs. They then traveled to Madison, Wis. and tested water near the Pecatonica River for oxygen levels, iron, phosphates, pH, alkalinity, chlorine, and other chemicals. Afterwards, students speculated on what effects cattle grazing, man-made fertilizers and other farming activities may have had on the river.
In the classroom, Tatum taught students the biology and chemistry of water, as well as the historical politics of water ownership and management. Thorp taught the political and judicial background of how people own, regulate and distribute water. Students began locally by studying the history of the indigenous Potawatomi, Fox and Sauk Tribes and how they lived on the land and alongside the rivers.
Students also took part in online activism by identifying and studying some of the many groups devoted to protecting clean water around the city of Chicago and nationally.