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Symposium focuses on U.S.-Canadian 'shared waters'

Sept. 6, 2006

KALAMAZOO--A September symposium and photo exhibit at Western Michigan University will focus on U.S.-Canadian relations and protection of the Great Lakes, the natural resource that serves as the critical tie between the two nations.

WMU's Canadian Studies Committee will present "Shared Waters: A Symposium on the Great Lakes" Thursday and Friday, Sept. 14-15, at the Fetzer Center. A companion photographic exhibit, "The Great Lakes Close Up: Spirit and Science," opens Friday, Sept. 15, on the second and third floors of Waldo Library and runs through April 2007. Both the symposium and the exhibit focus on the past and future of the Great Lakes.

Symposium speakers include Dennis Schornack, chair of the U.S. section of the International Joint Commission; Jerry Dennis, author of "The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas;" Ken Debeausseart, director of the Office of the Great Lakes; Richard Corfe, CEO and president of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation; and leading researchers from the U.S. and Canada. The work of five acclaimed landscape photographers will be showcased in the exhibit.

"The Great Lakes make up 95 percent of the freshwater in the United States and 84 percent in North America," notes symposium coordinator Dr. Lynne Heasley, associate professor of history and environmental studies. "Therefore, it's no wonder that the symposium has generated tremendous excitement across campus, with five WMU colleges and 15 academic units sponsoring speakers and sessions. We couldn't be more pleased to host such an impressive array of professionals in the realms of politics, science, engineering, policy, business, journalism and the arts, all devoted to the protection of the Great Lakes."

"The symposium will highlight Canada-U.S. relations," explains Dr. Nora Faires, associate professor of history. "By focusing on the Great Lakes we hope to foster understanding of both the United States and Canada. The issue of freshwater is of growing interest in the 21st century."

The event will begin in the Fetzer Center Thursday, Sept. 14 at 10 a.m. with the opening plenary session: "The Great Lakes Across Borders: Political, Scientific and Engineering Perspectives." Thursday afternoon features a session devoted to the St. Lawrence River and U.S.-Canada relations--"The St. Lawrence ­ Gateway to the Great Lakes."

The symposium's keynote address will be delivered by author Jerry Dennis from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday in Fetzer Center's Kirsch Auditorium.

Friday activities begin with a 9 a.m. session devoted to the environmental problems of toxic pollution and aquatic invasive species. WMU Interim President Diether Haenicke will welcome presenters to WMU during a luncheon for invited sponsors and guests.

Following the luncheon, IJC Chair Dennis Schornack will then deliver an address titled "Binational Management of the Great Lakes," in Kirsch Auditorium.

A Friday afternoon roundtable discussion will explore "Research Opportunities to Study and Protect the Great Lakes," in Room 1060 of the Fetzer Center.

The culminating event of the symposium will be the opening reception for an exhibit of Great Lakes photography from five acclaimed landscape photographers, together with a poster exhibit of ongoing Great Lakes research at WMU. Beginning at 4:30 p.m. in Waldo Library, the exhibit will feature the work of David Lubbers, John and Ann Mahan, Joanie and Gary McGuffin, Ken Scott and Ed Wargin. While the exhibit will be on display from 8 a.m. in Waldo Library's exhibit space on the second and third floors, the University Libraries invites the public to this celebration of the Great Lakes at 4:30 p.m. in the Edwin and Mary Meader Rare Book Room. Artists John and Ann Mahan will present a slide show at 4:45 p.m. (seating is limited), while WMU Provost Janet Pisaneschi and University Libraries Dean Joseph Reish will join everyone in welcoming the artists at 5:15 p.m.

The symposium is co-sponsored by the governments of Canada and Québec and by these WMU units: the departments of Biological Sciences, Geography, Geosciences History, and Political Science; the School of Communication; the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Environmental Institute, the Environmental Studies Program, the Diether H. Haenicke Institute for Global Education, the Haworth College of Business, the Lee Honors College, Students for a Sustainable Earth and University Libraries.

All events are free and, unless otherwise noted, they are open to the public.

WMU's Canadian Studies Committee promotes teaching and research in Canadian history, culture and contemporary affairs. It sponsors course offerings in Canadian subjects and organizes symposia on Canadian subjects and U.S.-Canadian relations. For more information on the Shared Waters symposium, contact the Canadian Studies Program office at (269) 387-4666; Dr. Lynne Heasley, symposium coordinator, at (269) 387-2778; or Dr. Nora Faires, chair of Canadian studies, at (269) 387-4666. Information also is available at international.wmich.edu/canadianstudies.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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