Augustana College seeking long-range goals for community

Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2013, 10:39 am
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Press release submitted by Augustana College

Rock Island, Ill. – Augustana College is developing a new Upper Mississippi Studies Center that will be far more than its name implies under the direction of Dr. Michael Reisner, a new member of the Augustana faculty who was recruited for the director's position after a national search.
Under Dr. Reisner, the Upper Mississippi Studies Center (UMSC) will assume a leading role in sustainability science, which seeks to build lasting relationships between people and the natural resources that surround them. While the principle can be applied on any scale, on a large scale, it might mean better protection of rivers and streams that flow to the Mississippi River. They carry runoff that can add problems such as pollution and sediment. Or, with proper management, they can help keep our waterways safe for navigation, recreation and wildlife for years to come. The goal of sustainability science is to recognize the long-term health of these waterways is critical to both our economic vitality, and human well-being.
Sustainability science is a rapidly emerging field that is building momentum nationally. Augustana College has taken a leading role in these initiatives, and a generous grant by the Margaret Cargill Foundation allowed the college to establish the UMSC. Dr. Reisner now brings a wealth of expertise as a leading figure in his own right to the movement.
Dr. Reisner earned his Ph.D. in ecosystem and restoration ecology from Oregon State University and J.D. from the University of Oregon School of Law. In Montana, he helped to negotiate an agreement between miners and conservation groups that helped to create about 1,000 family-wage jobs in a rural area, without degrading the water or air quality. At the University of Wisconsin, his work focused on creating more sustainable energy systems for the upper Midwest. Along the way, he helped to build better relationships between the academic community and the broader community outside—businesses, neighborhoods and conservation groups.
"We have to stop looking for panaceas or silver bullets," Dr. Reisner said. "Our communities face complex challenges that involve interactions between social, economic, institutional and environmental dimensions. We need to work collaboratively to develop and implement complex solutions."
A watershed moment for Dr. Reisner came as a boy. He visited Cairo, Ill., and remembers a breathtaking view—the great confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. But his lasting impression was spoiled by pollution, industrial waste and mind-numbing poverty. "Nearly three decades after I first visited the town as a third grader, things are the same, at the very least, and arguably have grown worse," he said.
No one, apparently, had brought competing interests together to rebuild the community. No one thought of sustainability.

Dr. Reisner also will engage Augustana students in the center's projects, challenging them to think in new ways that use interdisciplinary approaches, acknowledge competing interests, and find ways to compromise behind a common cause. Most of those causes will deal with adapting to a changing world in which sustainability science will be taking center stage.

About Augustana: Founded in 1860, Augustana College is a selective four-year residential college of the liberal arts and sciences. Augustana is recognized for the innovative program Augie Choice, which provides each student up to $2,000 to pursue a high-impact learning experience such as study abroad, an internship or research with a professor. Current students and alumni include 141 Academic All-Americans, a Nobel laureate, 12 college presidents and other distinguished leaders. The college enrolls 2,500 students and is located along one of the world's most important waterways, the Mississippi River, in a community that reflects the diversity of the United States.


Local events heading

  Today is Tuesday, Sept 2, the 245th day of 2014. There are 120 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: It is estimated that 300,000 people attended the recent Democratic convention in Chicago when Gen. George B. McClellan of New Jersey was nominated as a candidate for president of the United States.
1889 — 125 years ago: Alderman Frank Ill, Winslow Howard and Captain J.M. Montgomery returned from Milwaukee, where they attended the national Grand Army of the Republic encampment.
1914 — 100 years ago: Three members of the Rock Island YMCA accepted positions as physical directors of other associations. Albert Cook went to Kewanee, C.D. Curtis to Canton and Willis Woods to Leavenworth, Kan.
1939 — 75 years ago: Former President Herbert Hoover appealed for national support of President F.D. Roosevelt and Congress in every effort to keep the United States out of war.
1964 — 50 years ago: The Rock Island Junior chamber pf Commerce has received answers to about 65 % of the 600 questionnaires mailed out recently in a "Community Attitude Survey" to analyze sentiments of citizens towards their city's various recreational, educational, and civic service programs.
1989 — 25 years ago: The two thunderstorms passing through the Quad Cities last night and early today left some area residents reaching for their flashlights.

(More History)