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New Freshwater Studies program is first of its kind

JUNE 17, 2009

TRAVERSE CITY, MI — The Water Studies Institute at Northwestern Michigan College has announced the launch of the first Associate in Science and Arts Degree for Freshwater Studies in the United States. Enrollment is now underway for the 2009 fall semester.

“No other community college in the country has this unique set of institutional and human resources, and certainly not this privileged location for a learning laboratory,” said Hans Van Sumeren, Water Studies Institute director.

Students will choose one of three concentrations within the program: science and technology, global freshwater policy and sustainability, or economy and society. Each will be geared toward preparation for rapidly-emerging career paths including governance, planning, sustainable agriculture, sustainable energy, water quality, management and reclamation.

The Freshwater Studies degree builds on existing NMC courses such as watershed science and oceanography. New courses being added include introduction to water studies, introduction to GIS (Geographic Information Systems), a field experience, and internships.

“This science-based program has an interdisciplinary approach designed to offer students flexibility and a variety of opportunities that are especially critical in these challenging economic times,” said Van Sumeren. The degree is intended both for students who aspire to enter the professional arena as well as those who wish to further their studies at a four-year school.

“We want to support our students so they can compete favorably in a global economic environment,” said Dr. Constanza Hazelwood, Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Water Studies Institute. “In a region where water is abundant, we can readily forget that it is a scarce resource in so many areas of the globe.”

The Water Studies Institute is located in NMC’s Great Lakes Campus on West Grand Traverse Bay. It has an on-site water analysis laboratory and will utilize the T/S Northwestern as a floating classroom for exploration of the Grand Traverse Bay. The Institute has also been collaborating with NMC’s Aviation program to collect water samples on inland lakes using NMC’s float plane.

Students in this program will also have access to:

  • Research initiatives with university and community partners including the Grand Traverse Bay hydrographic survey project and Grand Traverse Bay Observing System,
  • Remote investigations with underwater vehicles
  • Fieldwork opportunities overseas
  • Internships

Van Sumeren and Hazelwood will be among the instructors for the freshwater-related courses.

Van Sumeren has a bachelor's degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering and a master's of science degree in Marine Environmental Engineering, both from the University of Michigan. He has conducted water-related research with the University of Michigan Marine Hydrodynamics Laboratories around the Great Lakes and in the oceans along the U.S. coastline.

Hazelwood received a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Los Andes University in Bogotá, Colombia. She received a Ph.D. in Curriculum, Teacher Education and Policy from Michigan State University. Hazelwood has worked with educators in the Grand Traverse region and globally as a professional development facilitator in science education. She also is a former science teacher and NMC Spanish instructor. Hazelwood is a consultant for international projects at Harvard University.

For more information about NMC’s Freshwater Studies degree, visit or call (231) 995-1793 or (231) 995-1722.

Section Navigation Academic Programs