About The RiverWebSM Website


What is RiverWebSM ?
RiverWebSM is an education and outreach program started at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The mission of RiverWebSM is to promote environmental education and historical and cultural awareness about rivers and their watersheds among students, educators, and their communities, and to facilitate greater citizen participation in environmental monitoring, planning, and policy-making by harnessing advanced information technologies.

Founding partners are:

Why study rivers and their peoples?
Rivers have always played an important role in human history, providing a means for transportation, commerce, recreation, and inspiration. This is no less true of Native Americans and European-American settlers. Throughout America's history fertile floodplains have supported both Native American, European-American, and modern agricultural development. Rivers have spurred urban development, as villages, towns, and then major cities grew up around river ports. Studying the life of rivers and their watersheds then, goes deeper than studying the natural forces shaping the river landscape, its path, and its ecosystems. It also involves studying the interactions between rivers and people over time.
Why the American Bottom region?
The American Bottom is located just south of the confluence of the Mississippi, Illinois, and Missouri rivers near modern-day St. Louis. Few places provide better environmental and cultural data for understanding the complicated, interactive web of life and how human society has coped over time with the mighty challenges of nature and, perhaps more important, the challenges of new neighbors.
What is the vision for this project?
Our long-term vision for this web site is to build a flexible, dynamic Web architecture that encourages learners, whether student, educator or curious visitor, to conduct their own explorations, document their own stories based on their research and personal experiences, and share their insights with each other.

The comprehensive teaching and learning resource that emerges will promote interdisciplinary approaches to the study and teaching about the rich interplay of human settlement with the Mississippi River. It is our hope that this resource, once constructed, will eventually serve as a model for the development and integration of further, web-based "landing sites" up and down the Mississippi River and its tributaries, large or small.

What has been achieved? Where are we headed?
In this early prototype, developed with financial assistance from the National Endowment for the Humanities, we offer a modest glimpse of this vision. Targeted primarily at high school and college students and educators, but also at lifelong learners and the public at large, this pilot web site supports both structured and open exploration of a rich array of historical narratives and multimedia comprising text, data tables, maps, images, sounds, and movies.

Soon we intend to create a CD-ROM of the content, with links to the "live" web site for downloading additional data and information. This CD-ROM will be produced in only limited quantities for project evaluation purposes. Following evaluation of the project and its outcomes, and pending further fund raising, we expect to expand the scope of the web site in keeping with our larger vision.