Beach cleanup an intro to UIC Freshwater Lab

Oak Street Beach in Chicago

Volunteers will help clean up the 12th Street Beach Sept. 16.

A beach cleanup Sept. 16 will not only improve a bit of the Chicago lakefront but serve as an introduction to the new UIC Freshwater Lab course.

Starting next spring, the course will offer students the opportunity to learn about and do projects on freshwater sources like Lake Michigan.

For the beach cleanup, volunteers can bike together from Science and Engineering South to 12th Street Beach, leaving at 2:45 p.m., or meet at the beach, near the Red Line and Roosevelt bus stops, at 3:30 p.m.

A pizza party with live music, sponsored by the Shedd Aquarium, will follow at 4:45 p.m. RSVP by today at

The volunteers will hear about the Freshwater Lab course, offered through the English, history and public policy departments.

It is sponsored by the Humanities Without Walls consortium, based at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities on the Urbana-Champaign campus and funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“At this time of the California drought and other pressing water issues, we want to look at the relationship between Chicago and the Great Lakes and issues of access, conservation and management,” said Rachel Havrelock, assistant professor of English, who will teach the course.

Class members will visit the aquarium, foundations, the Friends of the Chicago River and other water-related institutions.

“We’ll go out and see the sites and meet the players,” Havrelock said.

Students will come up with a project — “build a website, do an art show, invent a filtration system” — to present at a mini-conference at the end of the semester, she said.

Their work will be judged by professionals, government officials and academics.

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