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Watershed Protectors of WI: Spring Break 2018 AIS immersion program

| Denise Olson

The "Water Protectors of Wisconsin" is an experience to help students understand the history, culture, and science of humans and water in the Lake Superior Watershed, home to several tribal nations, as well as within the wider North American setting. After several weeks of in class content, students will spend a week visiting three tribal nations and two companies to learn how they are protecting the watershed. Students will gain historical, cultural, and scientific knowledge along with understanding the interconnectedness of humans and water.

This immersion is part of a 3-credit course, AIS 291, special topics course requiring seven weeks of classroom sessions prior to the Spring Break trip, and a follow-up of one week after the trip. In addition, a service-learning fulfillment opportunity will be offered during the weekend of May 5.

In meeting the water protectors of Wisconsin, students will critically analyze and wrestle with the historic dilemma in US history; the contest between one group’s rights versus another group’s rights, in this case, the rights guaranteed by treaty on the one hand, and on the other, private property rights to use the watershed for economic development. Additionally, students will be able to understand the impact of dominant assumptions and systems of privilege and oppression with regard to indigenous peoples and the environment.

Students from all colleges are eligible to apply for this immersion program, and needn't be an American Indian Studies major or minor. A total of 35 students will be accepted, based on application and interview with participating faculty. For more information and application requirements, please contact Jim Oberly at or Heather Ann Moody at

The Water Protectors of Wisconsin immersion is part of the UW-Eau Claire Domestic Intercultural Immersion Experiences program, aimed at engaging student learners firsthand with various cultures, populations and environments within the U.S., and deepening understanding of intercultural dynamics in relation to liberal education learning goals.