Professors from 31 Colleges and Universities to Use River as Classroom

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:
Cara Halstead Cea or Bobbi Woller, Public Information, Pace University, 914-773-3312, bwoller@pace.edu or chalstead@pace.edu
Michelle Land, Program Coordinator, Pace Academy for the Environment
914-773-3738, mland@pace.edu

Note: Media will have access to the R/V Seawolf at various points on the Hudson River between July 6 and July 29. Media are also invited to meet faculty as they teach on land along the way. A schedule is available. A list of member institutions is at the end of this release and contact information for representatives is available upon request.

BY BOAT AND ON FOOT, PROFESSORS FROM 31 COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES TO USE HUDSON RIVER AS CLASSROOM AND LAB

PLEASANTVILLE, NY, June 29, 2006 — A literal boatload of environmentally-minded professors, including faculty members from more than half of the 44 member colleges and universities of the Environmental Consortium of Hudson Valley Colleges and Universities, will spend three weeks roughing it and learning from each other this summer on the Hudson River and in an Adirondack field camp. Through River Summer 2006, faculty members as well as middle and high school teachers will learn about the development of the Hudson and its watershed, while preparing curriculum units for their courses.

This year’s program will run from Thursday, July 6 through Saturday, July 29. On the 6th, the participants will arrive at 5:00pm at the 79th Street Boat Basin in Manhattan to board the R/V Seawolf, a research vessel operated by the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

The program. River Summer was pilot tested last year. In this year’s expanded program, participants will undertake a multitude of studies, focusing on the interconnectedness of many disciplines. Projects include water sampling, sediment coring, archaeology, biodiversity, wastewater, policies and laws surrounding the river, geology, history, and culture. New elements of the program include:
• At the end of River Summer 2006, for the first time faculty members will have multiple, ready-made curriculum components that can be integrated into regular coursework.
• Program coordinators are now collaborating with middle and high school educators who will be on the boat, including a seventh grade teacher from a “sister watershed” (the Delaware Watershed in PA). Other participating schools include Pearl River High School, Pearl River, NY, Radnor Middle School, Wayne, PA, and the Calhoun School in Manhattan.
• Representatives from the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ, who are developing new educational programs with a focus on rivers and estuaries, will be participating.
• New working relationships have been established with urban planning groups such as those of Newburgh and Beacon, NY. The City Planner for Newburgh and a representative working on the Sustainable Master Plan for Beacon will meet with the group.
• Undergraduate students will be involved in two components, geology and archaeology, with students teaching the latter. The geology students are from SUNY Ulster County Community College and archaeology/forensic chemistry student participants are from various community colleges – some from out of state. More information about this component of the program can be found at:http://hhmivc.vassar.edu/HHMI/out_er_info.htm#er%20program%20description
• Activities will be archived this year through filming and pod-casts to make them available to a wider community, including for use in classrooms.
• Educators near rivers nationwide have now expressed an interest in learning more about the River Summer program including those in Alabama, Texas, Arizona, California, Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and the Delaware/Maryland/D.C. area (sister watersheds).

Multi-campus coalition, growing financial support. Formed over the last two years under the leadership of the Pace Academy for the Environment (PAE), the Environmental Consortium of Hudson Valley Colleges and Universities (ECHVCU) consists of 44 institutions throughout the Hudson watershed that have gathered for teaching, research and educational projects they could not do separately. Its members are pledged to a new era of cooperation through contribution of the skills and talents of faculty from diverse disciplines and institutions across the region.

Pace University is secretariat for the Environmental Consortium with its office situated in the PAE. John Cronin, who was the nation’s first Riverkeeper on the Hudson and is a Scholar in Residence at Pace University, directs PAE. Michelle Land, Program Coordinator of PAE, was appointed director of the Environmental Consortium in 2004. The PAE works closely with Stephanie Pfirman, Barnard College, who envisioned River Summer, as well as Tim Kenna and Margie Turrin, Columbia’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, who direct and coordinate River Summer.

This year, the Mellon Foundation has pledged its support for River Summer with a $200,000 two-year grant, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation awarded the Consortium $30,000. Additional support for the program is provided by The Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries.

The mission of River Summer 2006 is to explore innovative methods of teaching and learning, using hands-on approaches from the perspective of multiple disciplines. “Through participation in this program, we will create an inter-institutional and interdisciplinary cadre of faculty with knowledge of the Hudson and each other,” said Pfirman.

The faculty members will progress through modules covering the New York Harbor, Lower, Mid, and Upper Hudson and the Adirondacks. Other program topics include studying Riverscope instrumentation for near-real time data collection, the new political economy of the Hudson River valley, GPS and orienteering exercises, acoustic surveying in New York Harbor, and writing about the Hudson.

Unique role of higher education. “Institutions of higher education are uniquely suited to help solve environmental issues and have an obligation to do so,” said Cronin. “Universities occupy a distinct place in society, advancing the understanding of the human and natural world through investigation and teaching across all disciplines, and encouraging discourse, debate and critical thinking to serve the public good. This program has the potential to take environmental education to a new level, not just in the Hudson watershed, but by developing curriculum ideas that can be used everywhere.”

Consortium Membership. (www.environmentalconsortium.org) The current members are Bard College, Barnard College, Colgate University, Columbia University, CUNY Queens College, Dominican College, Fordham University, Hamilton College, Iona College, Manhattan College, Manhattanville College, Marist College, Marymount College of Fordham University, Marymount Manhattan College, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Mercy College, Mount Saint Mary College, College of Mount Saint Vincent, The College of New Rochelle, Pace University, Polytechnic University, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, The Sage Colleges, The College of Saint Rose, Saint Thomas Aquinas College, Sarah Lawrence College, Siena College, Skidmore College, SUNY University at Albany, SUNY Columbia-Greene Community College, SUNY Dutchess Community College, SUNY Maritime College, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY, North Country Community College, SUNY Orange County Community College, SUNY Purchase College, SUNY Rockland Community College, SUNY Schenectady County Community College, SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Ulster County Community College, SUNY Westchester Community College, Union College, Vassar College.

Founded in 1906, Pace University educates achievers who are engaged with critical issues both locally and globally. Known for its outcome-oriented environment that prepares students to succeed in a wide-range of professions, Pace has three campuses, including New York City (downtown and lower Manhattan), Westchester (Pleasantville, Briarcliff, and the White Plains Graduate Center), and the Pace School of Law in White Plains. A private metropolitan university, Pace enrolls more than 14,000 students in undergraduate, masters, and doctoral programs in the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Ivan G. Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems, School of Law, Lienhard School of Nursing, Lubin School of Business, and School of Education. Visit Pace University at www.pace.edu.

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