It’s a warm August day on the Detroit River when members of an LSA class climb aboard the Inland Seas schooner. Together, they will spend the next few hours hoisting, measuring, heave-hoing, puzzle-making, and learning about everything from microscopic life to fish that rival LeBron James in size.
On this floating classroom, they rotate among a variety of stations, assembling a large map of the Great Lakes at one stop. At another, they learn about the history of the fur trade on the river and what the area looked like before tall buildings lined its Detroit shore. They collect plankton, measure the speed of the wind, and learn about water clarity.
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Cathryn Fabian, a psychology lecturer and instructor of the class, said the schooner trip “opened my eyes to the biodiversity of the overall region. I also appreciated the acknowledgement of the Indigenous communities of the area, particularly in ways that they engaged with the river and the Great Lakes as a whole.”
The long arc of history—from the time when Indigenous peoples settled in the area to the present—was evident in lessons throughout the day.