In the last year, UW-Rock County underwent a significant change, joining UW-Whitewater and becoming a branch campus. Our new name is UW-Whitewater at Rock County. In a previous editorial, I argued that the best parts of Janesville’s local two-year college wouldn’t change, and I’m happy to report today that even my own wildest expectations have been met, and even exceeded.

Our Rock County campus still offers the same affordable tuition, the same curriculum (with plans to expand it, thanks to UW-Whitewater’s commitment to Rock County) and even more resources available to students. Such resources include disability support services, Warhawk Card benefits on the main campus, and access to scholarships and hardship funds.

But there’s more on the horizon. This year, faculty at the Rock County campus and UW-Whitewater’s main campus collaborated on a grant proposal through the National Endowment for the Humanities. Our goal: to develop a new curriculum that focuses on freshwater research in southern Wisconsin and its effect on local communities. This past month, we were notified that we won the NEH grant. Over the next two years, we will be planning an ambitious set of courses that will combine the hard sciences with the humanities.

How will we do this? The same way faculty always develop new courses: through research, collaboration and a lot of elbow grease.

What do we plan on doing? Our goal is to foster a sense of scientific inquiry by giving interested students the opportunity to conduct hands-on freshwater research in southern Wisconsin—for example, studying the Rock River. But this grant allows us to do so much more. Because the humanities are an emphasis, we also will help students foster an appreciation of the freshwater resources Wisconsin has, understand the history of water use in our state and develop the skills necessary to communicate what they’re learning within our local communities.

And that is why I’m so excited about this new grant-funded project. I truly believe that all students should become teachers—not necessarily as a profession, but as skilled investigators and communicators.

For me, the best universities are the ones that build connections with their communities. In this project, not only will our students conduct research and develop an understanding of our local freshwater resources, they will also share their new knowledge. That might involve library presentations, visits to local city councils, campus workshops or any other suggestion you have.

We’re going to use this grant to provide new opportunities for our students, and we’re going to take you with us on this exciting ride. We’re going to learn together, becoming a stronger community as a result.

Do you want to be a part of this? Do you have some resources that might benefit our students? Then I want to hear from you.

Ken Brosky is an assistant professor of English at UW-Whitewater at Rock County. He can be reached at broskyk@uww.edu.

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