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The wonder of H2O

By Lisa Pappas

How is water essential to life on Earth?

That’s the primary question being explored during LSA’s current theme semester. For details on lectures, concerts, exhibits and other events during winter term, please go to WATER THEME SEMESTER.

As part of the LSA water theme semester, students and faculty will research local, regional and worldwide water issues aimed at developing 10 key ideas and actions that will become the core messages of the water semester. The project will dovetail with the theme semester’s “Message in a Bottle” initiative, encouraging the replacement of disposable bottles with reusable ones. The Water Semester also will examine water in the global economy, cultural traditions, art and literature, and history.

On Jan. 12 Michael Gould (photo below) performed a concert  in the diag using various thickness of ice, and what promises to be a display of spontaneity and improvisation. Gould is an U-M associate professor of music specializing in percussion. Weeks before the concert, Gould was busy experimenting with a variety of ice forms. The slide show below looks at some of Gould’s ice creations.

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“Global water shortage is rapidly becoming one of the top environmental and societal problems of the 21st Century,” says Manja Holland, research programs officer for the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan, postdoctoral fellow with Michigan Society of Fellows and chair of the LSA Water Theme Semester Committee. “And, with recent oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico and the Kalamazoo River, water is increasingly becoming top-of-mind as a fundamental sustainability issue.”

Each semester, LSA establishes a theme for the campus community to engage in coursework, discussions, and other collective activities about that subject matter. The Fall 2010 Semester theme is: What Makes Life Worth Living? The Water Semester will kick off Jan. 12 with an ice-percussion concert on the Diag.

“The University of Michigan is uniquely positioned — geographically and academically — to explore the issue of water,” Holland says. “We look forward to engaging in meaningful discussions and educational exercises around this critical topic area.”

Portions of this story appeared in the University Record, Sept. 13, 2010.

Lisa Pappas is a communications specialist at the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan.