Courses for UW Students

Broadens your skills, perspectives and professional networks. 

Freshwater Collaborative–designated curriculum allows undergraduate students to attain a degree at one University of Wisconsin university while also having the ability to enroll in unique coursework at other UW System schools. 

We offer a growing number of courses that are available to undergraduates students at any UW System institution. Interested students should work with their advisor to determine how a Collaborative course may fit into their academic degree plan.

Summer 2022

Building Water Projects into an Environmental Math Course
Institution: UW-Stout/fully online 
“Building Water Projects into an Environmental Math Course” creates a new general education math course that shows students how to build and work with mathematical models that describe nature and how people interact with the environment. The course will highlight freshwater topics such as storm runoff models and fish stocking. This course will provide a solid foundation for students to study freshwater issues in more advanced courses and research projects. Open to any UW student. Watch a video about the course and learn about how to enroll at a non-UW-Stout student here. This course meets the UW System quantitative reasoning requirements and credits will transfer to any UW School. 

Limnology: Conservation of Aquatic Resources (Zoo 315)
Institution: UW-Madison and online/hybrid
June 6-July 3, 2022
Learn about freshwater, one of our planet’s most valuable resources. This 2-credit summer course focuses on physical, chemical and biological characteristics and processes of freshwater systems as well as environmental issues and rehabilitation of lakes. It includes multiple field trips to Lake Mendota. This course will be mostly virtual for non-Madison students, and those students should enroll under the special enrollment option at UW-Madison, and then transfer credit to their university upon course completion. Email Jake Vander Zander,, for additional information about how to enroll at UW-Madison.

Water-focused Internships (TRSP 400)
Institution: UW-Superior 
Water-focused TRSP-400 internships have typically been with marine transportation companies, ports, planning agencies and departments of transportation. This FCW project broadens internships to include collaboration with marinas, recreational boatyards, tribal communities and non-governmental agencies engaged with recreational and transportation use in northern Wisconsin’s Lake Superior ports. The enhanced TRSP-400 internships will be designed to provide students with in-depth, transformative experiences related to Wisconsin’s freshwater through hands-on learning. It is up to the UW university where a student is pursuing an undergraduate degree if the university will accept credits from UW-Superior. If the university will accept UW-Superior credits, then a student needs to go through the UW-Superior admissions office to get “special admission” which means they are not seeking a degree at Superior.

Western Wisconsin Advanced Freshwater Science Field Course
Institution(s): UW-Eau Claire, UW Oshkosh, UW-River Falls, UW-Stout
In this immersive course, undergraduate students enrolled in freshwater science-related majors will learn field and laboratory skills used to assess freshwater science investigations in geology, biology, geography, and agriculture. Course content will include the study of watershed hydrogeology, lake and river biology management, water quality, nutrient and bacterial contamination, landscape restoration, and community engagement with farmers. Participants will develop skills in field and laboratory data collection and analysis, map and imagery analysis, report writing, and communication. Collaborating instructors are from UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout, UW-River Falls, and UW-Oshkosh. Enrollment is full for summer 2022.

Fall 2022

Wisconsin Water-based Sustainable Tourism Development Course (REC 405)
Institution: UW-La Crosse/fully online

Wisconsin’s tourism industry depends greatly on water resources to grow local economies and provide jobs. This course will allow students to work with community partners in a variety of water-based tourism businesses to develop strategies to create sustainable tourism practices. This is a fully online, asynchronous course offered to any UW System student. It could fill electives for a variety of disciplines. Interested or have questions? Contact Dr. Dan Plunkett: Course Flyer. 

Spring 2023

Aquatic Biogeochemistry of Wisconsin waters
Institution: UW-Whitewater
This interdisciplinary course in aquatic biogeochemistry will utilize the analytical instrumentation and equipment already available at UW-Whitewater. Furthermore, this course will be part of a planned, future “Immersion Semester in Analytical Chemistry and Aquatic Toxicology” for students throughout the UW System. This course will blend the expertise of our current faculty (in limnology, wetlands, stream ecology, marine biology, aquatic toxicology, and fluvial geomorphology) to offer hands on training and immersion in aquatic biogeochemistry.

Collaborative Undergraduate Course on Managing the Mississippi River
Institution(s): UW-La Crosse, UW-Platteville
This new cross-campus, cross-disciplinary course will connect students to their watersheds and foster an understanding of how changes in one part of a hydrologic system impact those upstream and downstream. Students will examine how land use change and Mississippi River management have resulted in both the infrastructure that we depend on and the environmental impacts that threaten natural waterways. This transformative course will bring students onto the Mississippi River, highlighting it as both a natural and managed system. It will present the benefits and challenges of river management for diverse stakeholders.

How we see water: A Transdisciplinary Course on Wisconsin Water Resources
Institution: UW-River Falls
The course focuses on water-related issues impacting western Wisconsin and the needs of local businesses and organizations. It includes a substantial community-based learning experience that integrates a diversity of perspectives across multiple stakeholders, including cross-campus collaborations with other UW schools. Faculty from a variety of disciplines and students from different majors provide a team-based, transdisciplinary experience that expands how students understand and address water-based problems/opportunities in the region.

Human Interactions with Lake Michigan Coastal Ecosystems
Institution(s): UW-Green Bay, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Parkside

This will be a nine-day summer survey/field study course along Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan coast, stopping at major harbors and sites of social/environmental interest. Course content will be informed by completed/ongoing harbor mapping and the NOAA National Marine Sanctuary. Students will become familiar with Great Lakes ecosystem complexity juxtaposing natural areas against heavily human impacted harbors. The major focus will be on diverse efforts to restore/create a coastline in which harbors interact with the open coast in a way that facilitates “ecosystem services;” i.e., humans derive benefits from the natural environment.

Microbial Ecology, BIOL 312
Institution:UW-River Falls

This course will help students gain understanding on the biology of microorganisms and apply this knowledge to explore how microbes help in the functioning of natural ecosystems. This course will offer hands-on experience for students to enhance their understanding on microbial interactions with plants and the environment. 

“People, Water, and The Environment Course
Institution: UW-Stout

This will be a new introductory-level course for Stout’s B.S. in Environmental Science program, which will introduce students to the human dimensions of conservation with a focus on water quality issues. This course will prepare students for careers in conservation that involve working with communities, landowners, and other stakeholders by combining theoretical, disciplinary, and practical approaches to human-environment interactions with applied case studies on freshwater issues, local field trips, and guest speakers.  

Principles of Freshwater Informatics
Institution: UW-Parkside 
This new course will teach students the background and skills necessary to work with large and disorderly data related to freshwater disciplines. Topics will include sound data management, best practices and common pitfalls, and creating useful datasets. Students will use open-source freshwater data and gain hands-on experience while they problem solve as a team. Learning will focus on real-world water-sector examples to allow students to understand the “beyond the classroom” significance to the work they are doing.