SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College will host its third “Thinking Like a River” symposium on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 9 and 10, featuring nationally recognized experts in the environment, particularly blueways.

"Blueways: An Inquiring Gaze,” which will be free and open to the public, will include John Cronin, senior fellow for environmental affairs at Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies at Pace University in Pleasantville, N.Y., and former Hudson Riverkeeper; Leslie King, director of the River Institute at the University of Dayton in Ohio; and T.S. McMillin, author of “The Meaning of Rivers” and professor at Oberlin College in Ohio. 

The purpose of the symposium is to integrate perspectives from natural sciences, social sciences and humanities, and the arts to look at natural and cultural impacts on local rivers. “This year we will be seeing public blueways through the eyes of some of the leading experts and proponents of rivers in the United States,” John Lane, Wofford professor and director of the college’s Goodall Environmental Studies Center at Glendale, S.C., says. 

Society has a strong impact on local rivers, Lane explains. “Ironically, in this present age, access to our rivers is maybe one of the most important things that contribute to keeping them healthy,” he says. “We want the community to join us as we consider how blueways, both local and distant, can connect us to our streams.” 

Kaye Savage, director of Wofford’s environmental studies program, notes, “We are excited to host speakers who can bring a broad perspective to this topic, which is particularly timely with the recent grand opening of the Pacolet and Lawson’s Fork Blueway. We’re thankful to all who were involved in that effort.”

Here is the schedule for the symposium:

Thursday, Oct. 9:
“Thinking Like a River” panel discussion
2:30-5:30 p.m., Anna Todd Wofford Center

Panelists: John Cronin, Leslie King and T.S. McMillan; moderators, John Lane and Kaye Savage

“Blueways and the Rivers of our Imagination”
7 p.m., McMillan Theater, Campus Life Building

Speaker: John Cronin

Friday, Oct. 10:
“Am I Blue? The Strange Ways of an Urban River”
3-4:30 p.m., Gray-Jones Room, Burwell Building
Speaker: T.S. McMillin

“Rivers Institute at the University of Dayton; Partnering on the River”
6:30-8 p.m., Gray-Jones Room, Burwell Building
Speaker: Leslie King

“Thinking Like a River” is a three-year initiative funded by a $383,000 grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation that aims to shape a culture of sustainability centered on local waters by offering unique, hands-on experiences with area rivers for students, faculty and area residents. The project integrates perspectives from natural sciences, social sciences and humanities and arts in experiential learning environments to connect, protect and reflect on rivers. “Thinking Like a River” encompasses three central components – a floating seminar series, a curriculum designed to encourage and engage visitors at the Goodall Environmental Studies Center, and a Fellows program.


John Cronin
Cronin is senior fellow for environmental affairs at Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies at Pace University in Pleasantville, N.Y. He teaches environmental history, policy and advocacy, and is active in the area of water policy reform. He is embarking on his fourth decade of environmental work. He gained international attention for his work as the Hudson Riverkeeper from 1983 to 2000. At the urging of folksinger Pete Seeger, Cronin began his environmental career in 1974 as a pollution investigator for Seeger’s Clearwater organization. Cronin’s work led to the first successful federal prosecution in New York State under the new Clean Water Act. He also has worked as a lobbyist, writer, filmmaker and Hudson River commercial fisherman. As the nation’s only “Riverkeeper” in 1983, his investigative work brought public attention to, and state and federal investigations of, the practices of the Exxon Co., whose oil tankers rinsed their holds into the Hudson and removed fresh water for transport to the Exxon refinery in Aruba. As a client of the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, which he co-founded, he helped bring enforcement cases against more than 100 environmental lawbreakers. His work later inspired the creation of more than 200 Water Keepers in six nations. Cronin took up the cause of fishermen beleaguered by pollution with his documentary film “The Last Rivermen,” which he wrote and co-produced with director Robert Nixon. It was recognized as an outstanding documentary of 1991 by the Motion Picture Academy Foundation. He coauthored “The Riverkeepers” with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., recognized as a leading handbook on environmental activism, and has contributed numerous op-eds on environmental policy to The New York Times. Cronin is the founding director and CEO of Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, where he partnered with Clarkson University to create a program of technological innovation and real-time monitoring to advance understanding and protection of waterways. With the merger between the two institutions, he was named Beacon Institute Fellow at Clarkson.

T.S. McMillin
McMillin is the author of “The Meaning of Rivers: Flow & Reflection in American Literature” (American Land & Life Series, University of Iowa Press, 2011) and “Our Preposterous Use of Literature: Emerson & the Nature of Reading” (2000). Recent essays include “Beauty Meets Beast: Emerson’s English Traits” (2010) and “The Discipline of Abandonment: Emersonian Properties of Transdisciplinarity & the Nature of Method” (2013). An essay from his current research on the Los Angeles River will appear next year in “The Politics of Fresh Water: Access, Conflict and Identity,” a book in the Routledge series Earthscan Studies in Water Resource Management. In addition to teaching courses in environmental studies and American literature at Oberlin College, he has served as lead scholar in literature for an NEH-sponsored Teachers’ Academy on Picturing America’s Changing Landscapes (2011), as river educator on the kayak floats of L.A. River Expeditions (2012), and as faculty guide on canoe trips on the Gunnison River in Colorado and the Green River in Utah (2004 to the present). He has performed in a poetic capacity with the Josh Ritter Band (2009) and a classical trio (2013), and currently plays snare drum and sings in The Original Crank.

Leslie King
King, director of the Rivers Institute at the University of Dayton, supervises a team of graduate assistants and undergraduate interns as they carry out the daily operations of the institute and its many projects. King also coordinates the River Stewards program, the student component and flagship of the Rivers Institute. There are more than 45 river stewards, which represent three cohorts and more than 25 majors. King brings a bachelor of science degree in agriculture from West Virginia University, in environmental protection. King has more than 10 years of experience in leadership development and experiential-based education. She also brings a passion and background in international education, as she spent three summers studying abroad, several years teaching in Central America and South America, and then four years working for a small liberal arts college study abroad office. Some of the projects keeping the Rivers Institute team and King busy are the annual River Summit, the River Leadership curriculum development and the recently completed RiverMobile. She completed her MPA degree from at Dayton in May.