Mississippi River Open School

Mississippi Studies preliminary description

Mississippi Studies is a new initiative to encourage intercollegiate collaboration on publicly engaged projects that center on the Mississippi River watershed and its inhabitants. Mississippi Studies will re-imagine the river and its tributaries as a coherent cultural, research, and educational corridor and foster new ways of thinking about this shared environment, its heritage, and its rich role in the history of the United States. We anticipate that Mississippi Studies will enhance faculty career development by creating off-campus opportunities for faculty to work with colleagues at other ACM colleges and cultural and scientific institutions in this region.

The short-term objectives of Mississippi Studies–and of this initial planning meeting–are to:

  1. Increase awareness of the work of ACM faculty–across disciplinary fields–that connects to the Mississippi River Watershed and its inhabitants.
  2. Brainstorm and develop ideas for collaborative projects and activities that could support Mississippi Studies, including potential funding opportunities.
  3. Develop the beginning framework for a strategic vision for Mississippi Studies

The long-term objective of Mississippi Studies is the creation of the Mississippi River Research Barge, a floating cultural and scientific research platform that travels the length of the river promoting translocal collaborations. The vision is to establish a research environment that encourages faculty (and students) working in close proximity to each other to integrate research connected to the Mississippi River Watershed, including collaborative projects that would span the arts, sciences, humanities, and social sciences. Recognizing that this is an ambitious goal, we aim to utilize a stepping-stone process that would enable elements of this vision to be realized before–and be able to operate independently–of a barge, e.g., existing field stations, smaller boats, shorter trips and timelines, as well as road-based activities that could apply broadly to diverse sub-watersheds.