This academic year, Hobart and William Smith Colleges will take a deep dive into the intersecting issues and interests around water in the Finger Lakes, through a series of programs and events under the theme “Year of Water.”
Organized by Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Beth Kinne and the Finger Lakes Institute (FLI) staff, the interdisciplinary series of collaborative programs and regional partnerships will focus on a range of water-related themes throughout the 2019-20 academic year: from water quality and watershed management, to water’s importance in the local economy and culture, to the recreational value of water and its spiritual significance.
“There are so many people on this campus who are working in some aspect of water research, and there are a large number of community groups all around the watershed who are working hard to protect the watershed,” Kinne says. “I thought it would be very helpful for educating the public and people who aren’t involved yet — that it would encourage them to get more engaged.”
The Year of Water’s goal is multifold, marking 15 years of FLI programming and the Institute’s expansion from hard science to broader, increasingly interdisciplinary perspectives. The program also showcases some of the Colleges’ major assets — the lake, watershed and abundance of academic work that is built on and contributes to the survival of those assets. Finally, the program emphasizes engagement with the broader community in the region to discuss the value of and threats to the watershed and develop partnerships to address them.
The Year of Water will highlight those already conducting water-themed research, education and outreach at HWS and in the Seneca Lake watershed, while engaging those at the HWS and in the larger Geneva community undertaking activities that could readily integrate watershed education. The programming is also designed to promote collaborations between and among people from different disciplines or social spheres who are willing to work together on water issues but might not connect otherwise.
In advance of the Year of Water, the Wyckoff Family Foundation awarded the Colleges a $4,380 grant to support a collaboration between the Geneva High School science department and the FLI. The grant will fund the implementation of hands-on science opportunities for GHS students, from water sampling and classroom laboratory investigations, to a series of water exploration activities for Geneva elementary school students in honor of World Water Day in March.
Learn more about the Year of Water on the Pulteney Street Podcast with President Joyce P. Jacobsen’s interview with Kinne.