University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

The River, the Bridge, the Community: Beyond the Headlines of the I-35W Bridge Collapse, Fall 2007

URBS 3800-001, 3 credit
Mondays 2:30 to 3:45 p.m.
229 Nolte Center
Instructor: Patrick Nunnally, Research Associate with the Institute on the Environment

When the I-35W bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River on August 1, 2007, reverberations echoed across the country and around the world. The River Life Program of the Institute on the Environment, in conjunction with the Urban Studies Program, the Water Resources Center, and the Institute for Advanced Study, is offering a multi-faceted program “The River, the Bridge, the Community” that will include an undergraduate course, a lecture series, and a web site, and will connect to other initiatives being pursued across the University.

This course explores particular dimensions of the river/bridge/ community nexus. Possible areas of exploration include: What does the Mississippi River mean to the community as a transportation system? What does I-35 mean as a transportation system? What are the implications of the collapse for Mississippi River water quality? Can (or should) the corridor carrying I-35W be fitted for alternative modes of transportation such as light rail and bicycles? Students will be exposed to a number of speakers from outside the campus, as well as campus experts on particular dimensions of the subject, and will develop research reports that explore a particular subject in depth. An associated lecture series on Tuesday afternoons will be open to the public as well as enrolled students.

It is expected that student work would support the Institute on the Environment project “Telling River Stories,” as well, perhaps, as other initiatives. For more information, students can contact Pat Nunnally at

This course is a collaboration between the Institute on the Environment, the Urban Studies program, and the Institute for Advanced Study.

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