What are Water Circles?

Water Circles are virtual working groups open to members across the U of M System and beyond which focus on one or more specific water topics or objectives. Being hybrid, geographic barriers to participation are eliminated, and System-wide participation by individuals from all career stages is encouraged. Water Circles have an expected timeline of 6 months to 2 years and are led by a member of the U of M Water Network, with participants internal and external to the University encouragedCurrent Water Circles are listed below.  

If you are interested in joining any existing Water Circles, use the contact information provided below. 

Current Water Circles

To join any of these Current Water Circles, contact the leader indicated. 

Water in the Sustainable Development Goals, Leader: Jeff Standish (standish@umn.edu), along with Katey Pelican, Karen Brown, Shane Stennes and others. Meeting every two weeks via Zoom. This conversation circle seeks to connect stakeholders, identify opportunities, and document outcomes and impact related to transdisciplinary water work across the University system that fits within the SDGs. Particular interest will focus on work that connects SDG water metrics to the UMN Strategic Plan and/or the Minnesota State Water Plan (from EQB). Outcomes from this water circle could include data/metrics tracking tools, activity reports, and collaborative research opportunities. This Water Circle will meet on Zoom regularly every 2 weeks on Friday's (8 to 9 AM Central Time) beginning on March 19th. To be added to the calendar invite please contact Jeff Standish at standish@umn.edu. Outcomes so far: "UMN-hosted collisions" have been hosted on topics/goals/strategies within MN State Water Plan that map directly into UN SDGs.

International Education in Water. Leaders: Sergei Katsev (skatsev@d.umn.edu), along with Raymond Newman, Ted Ozersky, and others. Meeting once a month via Zoom through May 2022. The group is to assess and pursue the opportunities for water-centered international education and research, particularly in the developing world. It is a forum to generate and develop ideas for supporting our students' activities abroad, creating joint graduate programs or other forms of partnerships with foreign institutions, and otherwise enhancing the UMN contributions to solving the World's water problems. Outcomes could include the vision and tactic for furthering international engagements, as well as applications for funding to achieve these goals. Outcomes so far: A conceptual document for an international graduate certification program, which we shared with our partners in East Africa and educational organizations such as ACARE.  

Past Water Circles

Click here to expand the list of Water Circles that are complete.  

2020 - 2022

Creating a Stormwater Research Center of Excellence, Leader: Tiffany Sprague (tsprague@d.umn.edu), along with Lucinda Johnson, Joel Larson, Andy Erickson (eric0706@umn.edu), John Bilotta, and others. Meeting once a month via Zoom through May 2022. This Water Circle seeks to investigate the potential for creation of a Stormwater Research Center of Excellence, ultimately strengthening collaboration among various colleges, institutes and programs, while further solidifying the University of Minnesota as a key stakeholder in local, state and regional partnerships, advancing research, development and adoption of stormwater remediation technologies and management practices. Moving beyond current collaborations driven by reactions to funding opportunities, a Research Center of Excellence would establish a U-supported collaborative platform, providing an opportunity, and expectation, for individuals and departments to best share and utilize the skill-sets available within the University system, proactively driving innovation, research, technology development and community adoption of stormwater technologies. While a brick-and-mortar facility may be the ultimate dream, and a potential place to “house” the Center of Excellence, the current focus is on establishing the foundations for enhancing cross-U collaborations - leveraging more opportunities for multiple colleges, departments and institutes to work within and across disciplines, and alongside community partners and private industries, on stormwater remediation and management practices. Outcomes are to include a framework, mission, vision, and goals, as well as a draft proposal for a Center of Excellence, with funding sources (grants or direct appropriations from agencies) identified. Final Products: White Paper: Stormwater Circle: Activities & Outcomes of February 2021 - December 2022 (contact Andy Erickson at eric0706@umn.edu for a copy).

The Culture of Water, Leader: Stuart Deets (deets008@umn.edu), along with Evelyn Dsouza, Dan Card and others. Meeting monthly via Zoom. This conversation circle seeks to foster a strong community around studying water from a cultural perspective through the formation of a reading group. The purpose of our circle is to make clear that Minnesota is a national and global leader in understanding how water is cultural and to promote explicitly the study of water from a cultural perspective at the University of Minnesota. To this end we would like to plan an online, virtual conference that focuses on understanding the culture of water globally and locally. Outcomes will include the reading group, the development of UMN as a leader in the culture of water, and the planning of a virtual conference. Final Products: Cultural water Studies Blog

Want to start a new Water Circle?

Responsibilities are few and payoffs may be large!

Working Groups on all topics of water scholarship (research, education, outreach or any combination) are invited. 

Start by shopping your idea around with a few colleagues and have a "seed" list of 2-4 participants in hand. We encourage System-wide involvement and connections external to the University.

When ready, please fill out the Water Circles Application form and submit it.  Once received and approved, your Water Circle will appear on the list of active groups above. It is up to you to determine when and how your Circle will meet, whether by virutal or other means.  You must provide remote access allowing persons from across the University system to participate fully.

Funding for Water Circles is not currently open for applications.  Future availability of funds will be announced to the UMN Water Network. 

Circle Leads should announce the formation of their group, announce upcoming meetings, and provide occasional status reports using the Forum page.