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 Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.

(More History)