Wetland Restoration

Herb Wang, ,
U. of Wisconsin-Madison


This 3‐credit, field‐based, workshop will introduce students to the multidisciplinary skills needed to work effectively with the complex and interconnected issues in a community‐based project in New Orleans to restore the Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Triangle (BBWT), which is adjacent to the Lower 9th Ward. The four‐week course will consist of one‐week each of focused study of wetland science, social science, and land tenure followed by a capstone week of hands‐on service learning doing reconstruction.

Course Size:
less than 15

Course Format:
Small-group seminar

Institution Type:
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs

Course Context:

This is a combined undergraduate/graduate course environmental studies centered around a wetland restoration adjacent to the Lower 9th Ward. Graduate students serve as mentors to undergraduates. It satisfies either science or social studies or environmental studies requirements.

Course Content:

The course is centered issues of wetland restoration in an environmental justice community. The four-week course is based in New Orleans and consists of field trips and readings in wetland science , social science, land tenure. One week is devoted to service learning. All students are expected to keep a journal.

Course Goals:

The overall goal is to provide a learning opportunity in a project to create a thriving, healthy wetland and neighborhood focal point. Immediate restoration of BBWT is ecologically impossible because the current soil and water conditions of BBWT cannot support a cypress-tupelo swamp. Steps to establish the goal are to work with the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association's (HCNA) Center for Sustainable and Engaged Development (CSED) in the following activities

 Identify immediate adaptive restoration solutions by continuing to collect baseline data about the salinity, chemical composition, and hydrology of BBWT;

 Provide the community with concrete evidence of restoration efforts by planting small, self-contained test-plots in BBWT with potentially successful species that have been identified through research;

 Inspire long-term commitment to restoration in the community by creating wetland science curriculum for local students that engages their interests with hands-on activities at BBWT;

 Connect residents to restoration efforts and invite them to participate in outreach activities by attending twice-monthly HCNA meetings, distributing pamphlets, and engaging in face-to-face conversations.

Course Features:

The main feature is basing the course in the environmental justice community, the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

Course Philosophy:

The course has a 10-year history that included a university-wide forum, reshman seminar, honors course, Water Resources Management practicum, and eb-based EJ course. The 2010 version was team taught by members of the School of Human Ecology, Department of Geoscience, and Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. The course was based in New Orleans, which required a funding from multiple external sources.


The evaluation is by student contribution to research products for the community, course feedback forms, and student growth as represented by their journal entries.


Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 162kB Mar15 13)

Teaching Materials:

Education and Outreach in Environmental Justice (Acrobat (PDF) 376kB Mar15 13) On-line EJ Course Materials (Zip Archive 133.1MB Mar15 13)

References and Notes:

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