Calumet Quarter 2010
What is the Calumet?
The Calumet region, extending from Chicago's south side along Lake Michigan into Indiana and Michigan, was once a vast network of wetlands, lakes, prairie and dunes, one of the largest wetlands in the United States. This region lies at the intersection of pre-contact distributions of northern boreal forest, prairie, savanna, and dune. While the area saw significant use prior to European colonization, it was only in the last 150 years that human land use — especially heavy industry and urban development — began to radically reshape the region. In spite of this, the Calumet is still home to significant levels of biodiversity. Students in the Calumet Quarter will be part of an innovative example of cooperative conservation, the 70+ member Calumet Initiative, which brings together scientists, planners, community groups, local residents, and business with the goal of revitalizing both the local economy and the ecological riches of the Calumet region.
Justin Borevitz, Paul Grabowski
This course looks at the Midwest prairie as a model ecosystem. How and when did grasslands evolve? And where and when did they become established? How many species and biotrophic levels are interconnected in a regularly disturbed environment? Are there keystone species? What are the ecological forces that maintain, destroy, and restore balance? Glacial retreat, fire, deep-rooted perennial grasses, large herbivores, deforestation, industrial agriculture, and biofuels are covered. We then apply what we have we learned from the grasslands to live sustainably.
This course examines the history of land use and social and environmental issues in the Calumet region. In addition to discussing the Calumet region broadly, students will develop final projects grounded in research from all courses in the field studies program. Students will also attend weekly talks and discussions headed by individuals in industry, non-profits, Chicago government, and researchers within the Calumet region.
1907 University of Chicago Ecology class trip to the Indiana Dunes
2007 undergraduates at the Indiana Dunes