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Institute for the Humanities pres.

Freshwater Stories: Optics, Governance, and Adaptation around the Great Lakes

Jill S. Harris Memorial Lecture/Humanities Week Keynote Lecture by Rachel Havrelock, founder and director, UIC Freshwater Lab

Great Lakes Graphic Great Lakes Graphic
Great Lakes Graphic
There is a plausible bright future for communities in the Great Lakes basin. Holding over 20% of the world’s fresh water, the much-maligned Rust Belt could transform into the Water Belt marked by innovation in agriculture and production and welcoming to waves of climate migrants. Yet no framework of regulation, governance, or funding currently exists to ensure such outcomes. Instead public subsidy of extractive and polluting corporations persists. Along with lax enforcement of regulation, there are no mechanisms to deal with agricultural runoff, plastics, and pharmaceuticals. How to get from here to the Water Belt?

Rachel Havrelock’s work shows how the necessary knowledge about water systems resides at the local level where community members struggle with particular forms of privatization, extraction, and pollution. Not only do stories about these contests over water illuminate global processes, but they also chart a course forward. Reflecting on stories she has collected across the Great Lakes basin, Havrelock will share prominent ideas about life around the remarkable freshwater seas.
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