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Alverno College Course Takes Students to Coastal Cities on the Baltic Sea

Date Released: May 13 2014

Eleven students from Alverno College are about to embark on an 11-day journey to the Baltic Sea. Led by Jodi Eastberg, associate professor of History and David Brooker, associate professor of Political Science, the group has been studying Milwaukee as a coastal city all semester. Every effort was made to use the city as a classroom, visiting the Port of Milwaukee, South Shore Beach, the Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion, the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Global Water Center. Their lessons will take them abroad later this month as they visit the coastal cities of Gdansk, Poland, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Kalmar and Malmö, Sweden.

“We want our students to connect what we’re doing locally to how other coastal cities respectfully utilize the body of water they share,” said Eastberg. “They’re going to get a first-hand look at how cities around the world approach access to their natural resources.

So far the class has focused on Milwaukee as a coastal city and the impact of Lake Michigan. Various projects encouraged students to investigate the ways that culture, economic development, political dynamics and the environment are all affected by our location on the water. The next step is to broaden their perspective as they explore the same factors and their impact on four Baltic cities. “Hopefully this class will lead our students to become stewards of Lake Michigan as well as the lakefront,” said Brooker. “The lake is a treasure and it needs to be protected.”

With the recent opening of the Global Water Center, Milwaukee is quickly becoming a leader in water technology and resources. According to Eastberg, the cities they’re visiting represent some of the most innovative approaches to water research, initiatives and conservation in the world. “Moving forward, our hope is that the students will take what they learn abroad and apply that knowledge to improving the way Milwaukee utilizes Lake Michigan,” she said.

Once in Europe, students will work directly with university faculty and students in cities they’re visiting. One of the places they plan to study is the Kalmar Dämme, a wetlands area created to neutralize the chemicals used to de-ice planes at a nearby airport. This prevents the need for more chemicals to be used, and it keeps those chemicals from draining into the Baltic Sea. Other stops on the trip include the Maritime Culture Center in Gdansk, the Kalmar Maritime Academy, Western Harbour in Malmö and waterfront tours in each of the cities. The group will leave on May 22 for Gdansk and return on June 1.