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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 20, 2006

UI Hosts Mississippi River Symposium On Preeminence Of Water Oct. 28-30

The University of Iowa will host a Mississippi River Symposium -- a discussion about the importance of water in our physical and intellectual lives -- Oct. 28-30 at the UI's new Art Building West in Iowa City and the Grand Harbor Resort on the Mississippi River in Dubuque.

The symposium will engage scientists, writers, scholars and policymakers in conversation about the relationship between water and land, rivers and seas, and human society and nature. Organized by the UI Office of the Vice President for Research and the UI International Writing Program (IWP), the conference and the book of essays that will result from it are intended to provoke a broad exchange of views about water and human affairs.

Although admission to the symposium is by invitation only, the public is invited to attend two events:

--Ron Powers, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, novelist, nonfiction writer and author of "Mark Twain: a Life," will deliver the keynote speech from 7-8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28 in Art Building West, 141 N. Riverside Drive. The public is also invited to attend a pre-speech reception at 6 p.m.

--Frederick Turner, recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Art and the Guggenheim Foundation, will read from his latest novel, "Redemption," at 7 p.m.  Monday, Oct. 30, in the Prairie Lights Bookstore, 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

In a joint statement, UI Vice President for Research Meredith Hay and IWP Director Christopher Merrill said: "What we expect will hold the discussion together is a shared concern, across many disciplines and several nations, that present-day water uses, and the social worlds they underpin, are unsustainable and will require thoughtful remedies in the near future.

"We hope that new perspectives will emerge from these discussions and that the ensuing collection of published essays will increase our awareness about the uneasy status of water resources, and catalyze additional discussions and actions."

Among the questions that the participants will address in a series of discussions are:         

--How do we make wise water decisions?

--Are you responsible for the quality of the environment in which you live?

--What should be the target, the national goal, for our water quality efforts on the Mississippi?

UI organizers, who will also contribute to the symposium, are: Paul Greenough, professor of history; Jerald Schnoor, professor of civil and environmental engineering and co-director, UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research (CGRER), Gregory Carmichael, professor of chemical and biochemical engineering and CGRER co-director; and Jay Semel, associate vice president for research development for arts, humanities and social sciences.

Invited symposium participants are:

--Amita Baviskar, a native of India who received her doctorate in developmental sociology from Cornell University in 1992, is an editorial staff member of the journal "Contributions to Indian Sociology" and an environmental activist working against exploitative development. A member of the sociology faculty at Delhi University from 1994-2005, she received a 1998 Ford Foundation grant for her work on "Water, Social Stratification and the State," and in 2001 she was awarded a Winrock grant to organize an international conference on "The Culture of Politics of Water."

--Gerry Galloway is the Glenn L. Martin Professor of Engineering and Affiliate Professor of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, as well as a visiting scholar at the U.S. Engineer Army Institute for Water Resources. A member of the National Academy of Engineering and president-elect of the American Water Resources Association, he was a presidential appointee to the Mississippi River Commission and the American Heritage Rivers Advisory Committee and, in 1993-1994, he led a White House study of the causes of the 1993 Mississippi River Flood. He has been a member of seven National Academies' committees studying complex water resources management issues. During a 38-year military career, he served in various command and staff assignments in the United States and abroad and retired in 1995 as a brigadier general.

--Patricia Hampl is Regents' Professor at the University of Minnesota and a member of the permanent faculty of The Prague Summer Program. A 1990 MacArthur "genius grant" Fellowship winner, Hampl is the author of two books of poems and three memoirs: "A Romantic Education," "Virgin Time" and "I Could Tell You Stories" -- the latter a 2000 finalist in the National Book Critics Circle Awards in General Nonfiction. A 1995 Fulbright Fellow to the Czech Republic, she is the series co-editor of the UI Press' Sightline Books.

--Robert Hass, former U.S. Poet Laureate and a visiting faculty member in the Writers' Workshop -- a graduate program in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is professor of English at the University of California-Berkeley. He has published numerous books of poetry and
translated many of the works of Nobel Prize-winning Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz. A commitment to environmental issues led him to found and chair "River of Words," an organization promoting environmental and arts education in affiliation with the Library of Congress Center for the Book. A MacArthur "genius grant" Fellowship winner, he is a two-time winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award (in 1984, "Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry," for criticism; and in 1996, "Sun Under Wood," for poetry) and a board member of the International Rivers Network.

--Richard P. Horowitz is a Senior Fellow of the Coastal Institute in Rhode Island and emeritus professor of American studies at the University of Iowa, as well as a marine research associate in the Graduate School of Oceanography of the University of Rhode Island and a visiting scholar of American civilization at Brown University. For some 30 years, his teaching and research have focused on the interpretation of everyday life in the United States. He has worked abroad extensively to contribute to the development of his field, and his major publications include anthologies on American studies and "Hog Ties," a book about the implications of modern agriculture and medical science for American life quality that draws upon his experience moonlighting as a hired hand on a 2,000-acre hog, grain and cattle farm for 20 years.

--Tom Lewis, professor and chair of the UI College of Liberal Arts Department of Spanish and Portuguese, is a co-author of "Cochabamba: Water War in Bolivia" (2004), and co-editor of "Culture and the State in Spain: 1550-1850" (1999). The author of numerous essays on Spanish literature, social theory and philosophy and Latin American politics, he is a member of the editorial board of the International Socialist Review.

--Christopher Morris is an associate professor of American history at the University of Texas-Arlington, where he teaches the early national period, Southern history and U.S. social history. Among his works is a monograph -- "Becoming Southern: The Evolution of a Way of Life, Vicksburg and Warren County, Mississippi 1770-1860 (1999) -- that was a History Book Club selection and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

--Connie Mutel serves as historian and archivist at the UI College of Engineering's world-renowned IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering water research center and writer for the UI's Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research. She has lectured and written extensively about human interactions with native species and communities, the restoration of native ecosystems, and environmental history. Her books on Midwest ecology include: "Fragile Giants" (1989), on the Loess Hills of western Iowa, just east of he Missouri River; "From Grassland to Glacier" (1992); "Land of the Fragile Giants" (1994); and "Flowing Through Time" (1998). She is a frequent consultant to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the UI Press and the National Park Service, as well as a promoter of natural areas restoration.

--Nancy Rabalais is executive director and professor at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, where her research interests include the interactions of large rivers with the coastal ocean, the environmental effects of habitat alterations and contaminants, and science policy. A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program and past chair of the Ocean Studies Board of the National Academies, she received the 2002 Bostwick H. Ketchum Award for coastal research from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

--Alan Simcock, educated at Oxford University, was appointed three times (2000, 2001, 2002) by presidents of the United Nations General Assembly as co-chair of the U.N. Informal Consultative Process on the Oceans and Law of the Sea. He served as private secretary to the United Kingdom Prime Ministers from 1969 to 1972 and, in 1991, established a division in the U.K. Department of the Environment to coordinate U.K. policy on the marine environment, which he then headed for 10 years. During this time, he led the U.K. delegation to the OSPAR Commission Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic.

--Frederick Turner, is the author of seven books of nonfiction, including "Beyond Geography: The Western Spirit Against the Wilderness," "Rediscovering America: John Muir in His Time and Ours," and "Spirit of Place: The Making of an American Literary Landscape." His two novels are "1929: A Novel of the Jazz Age," and "Redemption" - the latter set in New Orleans in the early 20th century. He is the recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation.

--Larry Weber is a UI College of Engineering associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, the college's world-renowned water research center. His continuing studies on how young salmon can safely pass through hydroelectric dams in the Pacific Northwest and thereby co-exist with the power industry, have garnered support from Public Utility District No. 2 of Grant County, Wash.; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla, Wash. District Office; and various private firms. Since 1990, a series of such UI projects have attracted a total of some $18 million in support. Weber, who earned his bachelor's degree in 1989, master's degree in 1990 and doctorate in 1993, all from the UI College of Engineering Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, joined the college's faculty in 1996.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

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