The Great Lakes hold nearly 20% of all the available fresh water on the planet. They provide drinking water, hydroelectricity, and both economic and recreational opportunities to millions who live around their shores. This class provides an understanding of the Great Lakes, from their formation to the important role they play in the political and ecological systems of North America. Focuses on historical and ecological aspects, as well as current political and policy issues surrounding the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence ecosystem. Students learn about the geology, biota, ecology, management, and social and political aspects of the Great Lakes, especially the lower lakes (Erie and Ontario). The course uses a multi-faceted ecosystem approach to diverse topics involved with understanding these complex ecological systems.