Skip to content

Programs : Brochure

This page is the brochure for your selected program. You can view the provided information for this program on this page and click on the available buttons for additional options.
  • Locations: Memphis, United States; Minneapolis, United States
  • Program Terms: Fall Semester
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Program Description:


  • travel the Mississippi River from Minneapolis on a 100-day canoe expedition
  • customized curriculum and courses to fit your interests and graduation requirements
  • develop a field research project on topics such as water pollution, the Clean Water Act, agriculture in the watershed, political organizing around environmental issues, race relations and social justice, or urban riverfront revitalization
  • explore the history, literature, food, music, and culture of the Mississippi River through the American heartland
  • gain skills tailored to fit the needs of partner businesses and institutions including graduate schools, nonprofits, and government agencies
  • meet with local experts, “river rats,” and environmental organizations along the river
  • hear from guest lecturers on Twain and Faulkner, ancient river civilizations, American Indian communities and their fight for justice, and the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Program partners include Wilderness Inquiry, the Wild River Academy, Quapaw Outfitters, Louisiana Marine Consortium, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, Friends of the Mississippi River, America’s Waterway, Augustana College (Rock Island, IL), the University of Minnesota’s River Life Program, and  Works Progress.

Blog post on why we have a river semester


Students will take a full-time course load, choosing from among the following options:
  • POL 241 Environmental and River Politics (meets Liberal Arts Foundation for Social and Behavioral Sciences)
  • ENV 310 Environmental Studies Field Seminar.  Study grassroots organizing and meeting with stakeholders throughout the watershed.
  • POL 299/410: Democracy in the American Heartland. A study of the state of democracy in America, revisiting  Alexis de Toqueville’s classic Democracy in America
  • ENV 120: Environmental Science (Lab Science)
  • BIO 495: Topics: Field Research Methods (focus on aquatic ecosystems)
  • BIO 495 Topics: Ecology of Rivers, Streams, and Estuaries (with lab)
  • POL/ENV/BIO 499 Directed Research Project (possible Keystone credit)
  • POL/ENV 399 Internship (with a river-related organization; some internships are paid)
  • Other courses and specialized curriculum available by special arrangement
Plus everyone is enrolled in:
  • WEL 120: Canoeing & Paddling (1 cr)
  • Augsburg Experience


2018 Proposed Itinerary

The 2018 Expedition will spend 100 days paddling down the Mississippi from the Twin Cities.  The final destination is dependent on weather and other unforeseen circumstances, but the planned itinerary is as follows:

Aug. 20 Depart from Augsburg University campus and travel to B’dote at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers for the Expedition Launch & Ceremony.

Aug. 22 Red Wing, MN: town hall meetings and discussion of riverfront developments and meeting with Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance.

Sept. 5-7 Lake Pepin: studying water quality and impact of farming and increased sediment load on the river; sampling with fisheries biologists from the Minnesota DNR.

Sept. 12-17 Winona and LaCrosse: meeting with faculty and students at Winona State University; stream ecology labs; discussion of the impact of the lock and dam system on the river’s ecosystems

Sept. 20-22 Shuttle back to Twin Cities for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Forum and “Paradox of Water” Conference

Sept. 23 Shuttle back to camp with an international contingent of participants from the Water Conference.  Two additional canoes will carry a group of international water experts and peacemakers for one week of on-water workshops and experiential learning.

Sept. 24: Effigy Mounds and history of Native American communities

Sept. 28-30 Dubuque, IA: visit at the Mississippi River Museum, sleeping on the steamboat there.

Oct. 7-10 Quad Cities: meeting with Living Lands and Waters; meetings with local farmers; field lab with Prof. Reuben Heine, Geography Dept. at Augustana College.

Oct. 15-17, Kibbe Research Station:  Field Research and labs with faculty and staff from Western Illinois University

Oct. 20-21 Hannibal, Missouri, the “Mythic River,” Mark Twain, Huck Finn, and the literature of the river.

early Nov.: Arrive St. Louis:  layover with study of trade, urban economics, environmental justice, and the city’s relationship to the river.

Nov. 10:  Confluence of Mississippi and Ohio Rivers at Cairo, IL

Nov. 10-20: Paddling the Middle Mississippi

Nov. 26 – Thanksgiving somewhere in the vicinity of Memphis (deep fried turkey!) Music, history, and food; meet with researchers from the Mississippi River Project at the University of Memphis

Late Nov. – early Dec.: Blues Country and the Mississippi Delta

Early Dec.  Wilderness Inquiry vans meet with expedition at final takeout point for shuttle back to the Twin Cities

Dec. 8-10 Arrive Twin Cities

Dec. 12 Welcome back celebration at Augsburg University

Dec. 17 End of semester and final papers due.


Personal gear required for the trip (some equipment, such as sleeping bags and pads, is available for loan from Wilderness Inquiry).  Weight limit for each individual for clothing, sleeping bag, and pad is 25 lb. and no more than 3,500 cubic inches.  Minimize the amount of cotton clothing you bring (synthetics or wool work much better).

__ Waterproof Jacket & Pants – Must be sturdy enough to withstand wilderness conditions.

__ Pants – 2 pairs quick drying nylon or other synthetic is best.

__ Insulating Tops – 1 Heavy sweater or fleece jacket, 1 lighter top made of fleece or wool.

__ Long Sleeve Shirt – Lightweight shirt for protection from bugs and sun, quick drying nylon or other synthetic is best.

__ T-shirts – 2- 3 Quick drying synthetics or Merino wool is best, cotton OK.

__ Long Underwear – 1 Pair of tops and bottoms made of polypropylene or other synthetic. No cotton. This may seem unnecessary for August, but we sometimes have mornings in the 40s, even at that time of year. Also cold rain and winds are always possible.

__ Shorts – 1-2 pair of shorts. At least one pair should be made of quick drying nylon. Can double as swimsuit.

__ Swimsuit

__ Underwear – Enough underwear to keep you happy (around 6 pairs should do).

__ Wet-Shoes – One pair of durable, closed-toed shoes to be worn while canoeing–Keens or Tevas are good. Crocs will not work! (the mud will suck them right off).  These are a high priority item (cost of a new pair of Keens is approximately $50-100)

__ Camp Shoes – One pair of lightweight shoes or flip-flops to be used when off the water around camp.

__ Socks – 3-4 Pair of wool or polypropylene are best, cotton will not keep you warm if wet.

__ Sun Hat and Warm Hat – One to protect from rain and sun. One warm stocking cap for cool weather.

__ Sleeping Bag – Compact, light-weight 3-season synthetic fill sleeping bag with nylon stuff sack (rated to 25-32 degrees F., not a winter bag). No cotton or flannel bags.

__ Ground Pad – Ensolite ground pad or Therm-a-Rest, Exped, or Big Bertha inflatable type.

__ Water Bottle – Plastic or metal water bottle or canteen.

__ Flashlight or Headlamp – Bring extra batteries. Keep it small and light. Headlamp preferred.

__ Sunglasses – A sports strap to hold them on is helpful.

__ Small Day Pack or Dry Bag – A small day pack or dry bag to hold items you’ll want during the day. The bottom of the canoe gets wet, so you will need to provide a waterproof container for anything you want to stay dry.

__ Toiletries –Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, etc.

__ Sunscreen & Lip balm – Make sure it is at least 15 SPF.          

__ Medications – If losing your meds would cause you great discomfort, consider bringing a second set and giving one to your trip leader as a backup. There are no pharmacies on the Mississippi River (but we will stop in several towns along the way that do have pharmacies). Anti-itch cream recommended for bug bites. WI has a full first aid kit for any more serious injuries or illness.

__ Insect Repellent – No aerosol cans.

__ Bandanas – 2-3 Bandanas used for a variety of things including marking your bags, washing up, etc.

__ Small, synthetic towel.

__ A notebook/sketchbook for class, pens, pencils.

__ One set of nice clothes for our time in town.

Optional gear:

__ Ear plugs – the train tracks run along both sides of the river and trains run at night, and sound their horns at all on-grade crossings. Some campsites (like in Red Wing) are near facilities that are noisy as well.

__ Small Pocket Knife

__ Binoculars for field observations or bird watching

__ A supply of your personal snacks or favorite nonperishable food. High-protein power bars recommended (avoid high sugar snacks). People do sometimes get hungry in between meals, as we are getting a lot of fresh air and exercise.

__ Gloves – One pair of lightweight wool or synthetic. Some people do get blisters from the paddling.

__ Fishing Pole – Collapsible poles and small tackle boxes are best. Don’t forget a Minnesota fishing license.

__ Personal Diary/Book

__ Camera – Store in padded, waterproof/plastic bag or container.

__ Several Plastic Bags – They always come in handy, especially to organize your gear.

Note on electronics: laptops will not be necessary and we recommend minimizing use of cell phones or other electronic devices on the trip. The point of this kind of experience is to be paying as much attention to the world around us, and minimize the amount of distraction. That said, we will be blogging and using social media on the trip as we go. The program will have laptops/tablets available for some lab work and internet access. We will also have limited battery recharging capabilities and a mobile hotspot available for internet access while at camp as needed.


  • Augsburg Tuition for 2018-19: approx $19,000
  • Fees (includes food, lodging, transport, ): $7500 
  • Personal Expenses: Varies. Students should budget some spending money for the trip, in the range of $25-100/week depending on individual preferences.  This would cover things such as extra snacks, personal toiletries, entertainment in towns (movies, music, etc.), and souvenirs.
  • Personal Gear: Varies. See Equipment Tab.


Augsburg students please contact or visit us in the Oyate Commons, Christensen Center, lower level

Students from all other colleges and universities please contact to be connected with an Augsburg CGEE representative.


Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.