Freshwater Lab

My English major can do that?!

The Freshwater Lab is a course option for English majors that truly expands the boundaries of what the Humanities can accomplish in today’s world.

This course invites your questions and interests while exploring the challenges surrounding the Midwest’s shared waters. Since 2013, the Freshwater Lab has held summits, live events, university courses, community research workshops, and pioneered digital platforms, such as Freshwater Stories, a groundbreaking digital storytelling site focused on educating and drawing the wider public to Great Lakes issues. With the aim of promoting greater awareness and political engagement with the Great Lakes, researchers in the Freshwater Lab teach and learn about the social contexts of fresh water and infrastructure.

Students form lasting connections in the Humanities “lab” setting where we study the social and ecological dimensions of the Great Lakes. In the Freshwater Lab course, you will get to know Great Lakes leaders, visit places where water and people meet, and create projects to advance existing initiatives and pioneer new approaches. Freshwater Lab students take field trips to the Shedd Aquarium, the Jardine Water Purification Plant, Little Village Environmental Justice “Toxic Tour,” and beach clean up along the lakeshore.

The Guest Speaker Series with water leaders such as Water Commissioner Debra Shore and Cameron Davis, and Freshwater Alumna, give students the opportunity to connect with professionals in the field. Each student, individually or in a group, creates a project that addresses a particular Great Lakes issue. Through in-class workshops, dialogue with professional advisors, Freshwater Lab students often land fellowships and jobs related to their projects.

The Freshwater Lab offers a Great Lakes Internship Program based in Chicago to launch student careers in Great Lakes initiatives and organizations. The Freshwater Lab envisions water leadership in Chicago that reflects the actual residents living the Lake Michigan Basin. Many UIC students come from neighborhoods and areas where issues of toxicity, access, and failing infrastructure are pressing. The Freshwater Lab trains students to address the needs in their communities and succeed at environmental organizations as leaders and collaborators with regional partners.

Ask your advisor how to add the Freshwater Lab to your course schedule.

Voices from the 2017 Conference

Learn more about the Freshwater Lab

Visit Freshwater Stories: digital story collection