Past Event


A Road Scholar Program by Rachel Havrelock

This presentation by scholar and educator Rachel Havrelock will examine the new water geography of too little water in some regions and too much in others. It will review current state policies and private initiatives related to the distribution of water. With a focus on the Great Lakes, Havrelock will map the social dimension of access to clean water and distribution to toxins. She will then present models of community building and integration around water management and engage the audience in a discussion of the emerging politics of water.

With local, federal, and international business interests each vying for water service, virtually every question of managing watersheds has become a transborder issue in one sense or another. Legal and political frameworks therefore play a key role in the ways in which resources are valued and distributed. Yet to focus on these frameworks alone neglects the ways in which class, culture, and gender also influence environmental health and access. The questions of who is served by water and energy infrastructure and who leverages influence as a stakeholder are crucial aspects of this issue that humanities research brings to the fore. No behavioral change, no new legislation, no reexamination of resource commodification can occur outside of discourse and social systems.

The way in which one approaches these questions has obvious implications for those whose lives and livelihoods depend on the Great Lakes, but it also matters a great deal on the global scale where eyes are focused on the interstate and international frameworks that govern extraction and management of the Great Lakes. What happens with the fresh water of the Midwest matters not only to those in the region, but also to other parties who desire access to its waters or look to this still vital water system as a model.

This event is Free and Open to the public. For more information, please contact Francesca Zamkowski at