The large teardrop sculpture on the lawn of the Student Success Building, and the proverbs and quotations carved into the sidewalk, are the most visible markers of MSU Denver’s commitment to water issues.
But it goes much deeper and broader than that.
As of the first of the year, Tom Cech, director of the One World, One Water Center for Urban Water Education and Stewardship, counted more than 80 MSU Denver faculty and staff who either work in various areas of water resources or who have expressed an interest in getting involved with OWOW.
“I anticipated that faculty and students in geography and environmental science would be interested in the water resources program, but was unsure how quickly other disciplines would get involved,” Cech says. “We soon learned that MSU Denver faculty, students and staff are passionate about water and sustainability.”
OWOW, which is poised to launch additional courses and programs, was designed to draw on resources campus-wide for a pilot water studies minor through the Individualized Degree Program.
It has done just that. Elizabeth McVicker, an assistant professor of management who is also an attorney and water activist, teaches the water law course. Tom Davinroy, associate professor of geography, developed an introductory course called Water Essentials. A new course in limnology (the study of lakes) will be offered this semester by Ashley Rust, an affiliate professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.
Water has always been an important part of the curriculum in science and engineering, and now those departments and others can tap the OWOW Center to bring in guest speakers, develop student field experiences and to collaborate with area water groups.
Consider these examples:
– The OWOW Center provided a $7,500 grant to the Department of Engineering Technology to fund a student-built open-channel hydraulics tank under the leadership of Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering Technology Runing Zhang. Students use it to measure flow rates and observe water behavior affected by the slope of the tank, in-channel barriers and other variables.
– English Professor Sandra M. Doe had her poetry writing workshop attend an OWOW-sponsored lecture on the controversial drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The students then wrote poems based on the lecture. Doe compiled the poems into a book titled “A Thousand Ways to Kneel and Kiss the Earth: Poems on Gas Fracking” and plans to enter it in a competition during the OWOW-sponsored Water and the Arts Symposium Feb. 25-26.
– Students in the marketing research course taught by Assistant Professor Nicole Vowles surveyed students, faculty and staff to identify characteristics that lead toward an interest in water issues and perhaps the pilot water minor.
– The OWOW Center is working with Marilyn Hetzel, chair and professor of theatre, to create a traveling theatre troupe in 2014 to promote water conservation and awareness.
This past fall, 73 students signed up for the water courses, and this semester has more than 100 students registered.
“I'm very pleased with the progress being made by the One World One Water Center,” says Sandra Haynes, dean of the School of Professional Studies. “Water in the West will continue to grow as a vital issue for all of us, and MSU Denver is positioning itself to be an important part of the ongoing conversation regarding water resources issues in the region.”
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