Mississippi River Open School

Preliminary description
February 1, 2018

The (Mississippi River Research Barge) is a floating cultural and scientific platform that travels the length of the Mississippi River to create research, educational, and exhibition opportunities for translocal collaborations. The Barge supports projects that re-imagine the Mississippi River as a coherent cultural corridor, in order to open up new ways of understanding the Mississippi’s environment, cultural heritage, and vital role in the history of the United States. As a performance and educational space, the Barge shares the results of these collaborations with audiences along the Mississippi River and throughout the world.

The Barge is a flexible and time-shared infrastructure that can be deployed for a wide variety of interdisciplinary artistic, scientific, and cultural research projects. Each project that utilizes the Barge will define a clear research topic that reflects the Barge’s function and document the project’s outcomes.

Finally, the Barge is an immersive learning environment for students and the public to explore connections between their individual interests, rural and urban communities along the Mississippi River, and the world. Through robust experiential teaching and learning, the Barge accelerates learning by examining linkages between social, political, cultural, artistic and environmental issues found along the Mississippi River to those faced by communities around the world.

We identify the following opportunities:

  • Translocal collaboration – as a mobile platform, the Barge is a partnership of the diverse constituencies found along the Mississippi, including colleges and universities, scientific and cultural institutions, and urban, rural and underserved communities. Preliminary asset map.
  • Cross-sectional work – as a platform that connects the cultural, the scientific, the political, the creative, and many other aspects of the Mississippi river, it will attract collaborations between diverse sectors of society that do not work with each other on a regular basis: academic researchers, local environmental and political activists, grassroot communities of interests, musicians and many others.
  • Inter- Multi- Transdisciplinary research – By bringing researchers together in close proximity, we create opportunities for integrated interdisciplinary research and the sharing of data, resources, research techniques and ideas.
  • Critical regionalism – we define the Mississippi and its tributaries as a shared object of study and interconnection. Research projects will aspire to think about the Mississippi as involving and/or impacting multiple communities along its length (Mississippi Studies).
  • Public engagement and experiential learning – the Barge creates immersive and experiential learning opportunities for the public and students. We will engage the public from urban and rural communities along the Mississippi River through one- and multi-day workshops and sessions on the Barge.