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Lectures and Panel Series


[POSTPONED] Great Lakes Theme Semester Panel Series

A highlight of the 2020 Great Lakes Theme Semester will be a speaker series surveying key issues confronting the Great Lakes and the peoples who depend upon them. Each session will be structured as a panel of three to four presenters speaking briefly on an aspect of the session’s theme, engaging in dialogue as a panel, and then opening the floor for audience participation. An informal gathering, offering more opportunities for the campus community to interact with the speakers, will follow each session.

Using and Moving the Water- Rights, Access, and Equity; March 16th, 2020

Michigan Union Pendleton Room (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)

Marc Smith, National Wildlife Federation; Monica Lewis-Patrick, We the People of Detroit; Anna Clark, Detroit Michigan. Moderator: Jen Read, UM Water Center


Politics & Policies- The Great Lakes Task Force; April 6th, 2020

Michigan Union, Pendleton Room (4:00 PM - 7:00 PM)

Invited: Senator Stabenow, Senator Portman, Representative Dingell, Representative Huizinga, Representative Kaptur, Representative Joyce. Moderator: Barry Rabe, Ford School of Public Policy


Looking Forward- Legal and Policy Prescriptions for the Great Lakes; April 20th, 2020

Michigan Union, Pendleton Room (5:00 PM - 8:00 PM)

Noah Hall, Wayne State University; Oday Salim, UM Environmental Law Clinic; Laura Rubin, Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition. Moderator: Andy Buchsbaum, National Wildlife Federation


Lake Sturgeon: Past, Present, and Future of an Ancient Fish
Thursday, February 27, 2020, 6:00-8:00 p.m

William R. Farrand Memorial Lecture
U-M Museum of Natural History

Sturgeon are ancient fishes, tracing their lineage back more than 100 million years. In the Great Lakes system, lake sturgeon are not only the largest indigenous freshwater fishes, they are also important players in complex aquatic food webs. Their remarkable past has given way to a tenuous future as overfishing, habitat loss, and pollution threaten their survival. Today, there is hope in efforts to restore lake sturgeon populations and spawning grounds, as well as in public awareness initiatives that share the cultural and ecological significance of this species. Thanks to the leadership of Michigan Native American Tribes and other organizations, lake sturgeon are beginning to make a comeback. Join a panel of experts as we explore the past, present, and future of this extraordinary endemic fish:

- Matt Friedman, Director, U-M Museum of Paleontology and Associate Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences
- Karen Alofs, Assistant Professor, U-M School for Environment and Sustainability
- Doug Craven, Director, Natural Resources Department, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

This program and the temporary exhibition, Survivor: The long journey of lake sturgeon, are offered as part of the LSA Great Lakes Theme Semester,

This event honors the memory of Dr. William R. Farrand, who served as director of the U-M Exhibit Museum of Natural History for seven years (July 1993-June 2000), and who enjoyed a long career as a professor at the University of Michigan’s Department of Geological Sciences. Numerous friends, colleagues, and family members contributed to an endowment fund to ensure that this annual honorary lecture will be offered in perpetuity.


Institute for the Humanities- 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

March 9th, 2020 4pm-6pm
Rackham East Conference Room

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.


Illustration from The Boy Who Ran to the Woods by Jim Harrison, illustrated by Tom Pohrt. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2000.

Growing Up Near the Great Lakes
March 10th, 2020; 3:00pm- 4:00pm @ Hatcher Graduate Library, Special Collections Research Center, 6th Floor

Dr. Elizabeth Goodenough explores the landscapes of the Great Lakes as they shape the lives of children, writers, and illustrators. She offers images and tales of lighthouses and shipwrecks from the inland seas, a biosphere with the power to influence artists forever. Stories of displaced children, indigenous youth, and runaways portray stormy passages. What geography constitutes “home” in picture books, Y/A and graphic novels, legends, and film? How do we retain and preserve the settings we first encountered? Goodenough investigates how a sense of belonging and becoming abides within, sustaining or haunting a lifetime. In this session we recall regional memories, ideas about nature, and narratives of outdoor exploration. Registration is encouraged but not required.

Goodenough has taught literature at Harvard, Claremont McKenna, and Sarah Lawrence colleges, and the University of Michigan. She has published several volumes in Childhood Studies, and her award-winning PBS documentary, Where Do the Children Play?, helped initiate a national dialogue on outdoor play.

Immediately following the presentation, we invite you to this month's Special Collections After Hours Event, The Great Lakes in Children's Literature (see "Museums & Libraries tab for more info).


Listening to Object Witnesses: Decolonizing Research in Museum Collections
March 10th, 2020; 6:00pm, at UMMA Stern Auditorium

Speaker: Margaret M. Bruchac- University of Pennsylvania

How do Indigenous objects in museum collections speak to those who collect, curate, observe, and claim them? The observable materials and patterns of construction obviously reflect particular ecosystems, cultures, and technologies, but do these objects also retain memories of the artisans who created them? Do they wield more than just imagined meaning or distributed agency? In this talk, Dr. Bruchac discusses strategies for recovering object histories through material analyses, consultation, and critical re-assessments of imposed museological categories (e.g., art, artifact, utilitarian, etc.) that may have distanced objects from their origins and isolated them from others like themselves. Case histories will feature new research into iconic creations – such as a 17th century wooden war club embedded with re-purposed wampum beads, and a shell bead wampum belt with a single glass bead – that function as “object witnesses” to entangled colonial settler/Indigenous encounters. Through her practice of “reverse ethnography,” Bruchac will reveal how, in many cases, memories can be reawakened when otherwise mysterious objects are reconnected with the stories, ecosystems, knowledges, and communities that created them. Object histories can also be recovered by tracking the desires and actions of non-Indigenous curators and collectors who transported these objects and stories to physically and conceptually distant locales.

Biographical Info:
Dr. Margaret M. Bruchac is an Associate Professor of Anthropology, Coordinator of Native
American and Indigenous Studies, and Associate Faculty in the Penn Cultural Heritage Center at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also a consultant to the Center for Native American and
Indigenous Research at the American Philosophical Society, and Director of “The Wampum Trail,”
a restorative research project designed to reconnect wampum belts in museum collections with their related Indigenous communities. Bruchac is co-editor, with Siobhan Hart and H. Martin Wobst, of Indigenous Archaeologies: A Reader in Decolonization (Left Coast Press 2010). Her new book – Savage Kin: Indigenous Informants and American Anthropologists (University of Arizona Press 2018) – was the winner of the 2018 Council for Museum Anthropology Book Award.


Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies Lecture / Human Conditions Keynote: Towards A Decolonial Account of Chemical Exposures on the Lower Great Lakes
Thursday, March 19th, 2020; 4:00-6:00 PM @ 1014 Tisch Hall

Speaker: Michelle Murphy, University of Toronto

Free and open to the public!

What might a decolonial understanding of chemical exposures look like? While concepts like the Anthropocene scale environmental violence up to the planetary level—treating the chemical pollutant and the human body as the same everywhere—this talk takes a non-universalizing approach to chemical violence and its relations to land and bodies. Focusing on the history of Canada's Chemical Valley and the world’s oldest running oil refinery, this talk asks how the specificity of chemical exposures can be understood in relation to colonialism as well as Anishinabek and Haudenosaunee obligations to land on the lower Great Lakes. In so doing, it makes the case for the need to rethink the assumptions of universalism and liberal humanism that undergird conventional environmental understandings.

Michelle Murphy is professor of history and women and gender studies at the University of Toronto, Canada Research Chair of Science and Technology Studies and Environmental Data Justice, and Director of the Technoscience Research Unit. Her current research looks at chemical pollution and environmental data in Canada's Chemical Valley, with a focus on the world's oldest running oil refinery which sits on the land of Aamjiwnaang First Nation. Murphy's most recent book is The Economization of Life (Duke University Press). She is Métis from Winnipeg.

This event is part of the Thursday Series of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies. It is made possible by a generous contribution from Kenneth and Frances Aftel Eisenberg. The Thursday Series is the core of the institute's scholarly program, hosting distinguished guests who examine methodological, analytical, and theoretical issues in the field of history.


April 3rd, 2020; 10:00 am, at Institute for Social Research Building, Room 1430

Speakers: Mr. William Johnson, Curator, Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways, and Member of the University of Michigan NAGPRA Advisory Committee; Ms. J. Amadeaus Scott, NAGPRA Collections Manager, University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA) created a federal legal process for the return of Native American human remains and cultural items (funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony) to Native American Tribes and Native Hawaiian Organizations.  Although the law was enacted more than twenty-five years ago, the NAGPRA process continues to develop as the law is clarified through the promulgation of regulations.

This talk will provide museum professionals, students, and interested guests with a basic overview of NAGPRA compliance through consideration of both tribal and museum sides of the process.  Topics covered will include who is required to comply with NAGPRA, consultation and transfer processes, ways for providing a respectful environment, and forging a connection between museum best practices and tribal ceremonial needs.  The conversation will explore the importance of transparency and agency in successful NAGPRA compliance work, and how mutual respect can grow into collaborations that extend beyond NAGPRA.  The session will offer an opportunity for dialog about the compliance process, and about tribal and institutional policies for NAGPRA compliance with a focus on practical advice.


Great Lakes Theme Semester talk by Joe Van Alstine

Ziibimijwang Farm: Growing Indigenous Food Sovereignty
Date & Time: TBA

Ziibimijwang farm is helping restore food sovereignty for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Owada (LTBB) and other communities throughout the northern Great Lakes region. Joe VanAstine will share the ways in which Ziibimijwang is working to provide a reliable food source for tribal community members independent of the larger food system, encourage healthy eating, and enhance people’s knowledge of how to raise their own food. He will discuss the challenges and opportunities in operating a sustainable, community-based farm, as well as how collaboration with tribal and non-tribal institutions, such as the University of Michigan Mathaei Botanical Gardens, can help promote Ziibmijwang’s mission.

Joe VanAlstine is member of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa, Chair of the Board of Directors, Ziibimijwang Inc, and Vice President of the National Association of Food Distribution Programs on Indian Reservations.


CIGLR Great Lakes Seminar Series
Dates available on website

CIGLR co-sponsors and coordinates the joint CIGLR-GLERL Great Lakes Seminar Series, which brings in regional, national, and international researchers to talk about pertinent new and emerging scientific issues in the Great Lakes. These events facilitate collaborations between researchers, provide an educational opportunity for NOAA and university scientists, and serve as an outreach forum for stakeholders and the general public to attend.


Poems, Postcards, and Paintings to the Great Lakes with Keith Taylor

Thursday, March 12, 2020, 3:00-4:00 PM; Hopwood Room, 1176 Angell Hall 

There are many ways for a writer to enter the natural world (and the natural phenomenon that shapes the place where we live: the Great Lakes Watershed!), but Keith will talk about one method that has worked for him. And the best thing about this idea is that even if you don't end up with a poem (or an essay! maybe a story?) that is as brilliant as you want it to be, you will almost certainly learn something about the world in the process. And, of course, he will provide examples of his own and from others, then send you out after 50 minutes to explore something new.

Free and open to the public
Email with accommodation requests