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Michigan Water Heritage Project

Michigan’s water resources are the foundation of the state’s past, present, and future prosperity. While we live in a water abundant state, our water resources are not infinite and they need to be wisely cared for to ensure they can sustain use and enjoyment for current and future generations. Policy and decision makers at all levels of governance continue to face tremendous challenges around water use and water quality such as non-point source pollution, invasive species introductions, competing demands for ground water, and impacts from changes in weather patterns. Water conflicts are already arising in parts of Michigan out of increased demand for food supply and energy production. Generations are becoming disconnected from nature and government decision making resulting in a need for capacity at the community level in order to address and resolve these conflicts.

This project is committed to increasing the ability of individuals to engage in influencing and informing water resource policy and improving government’s ability to communicate, engage, and listen to individuals tell their story about why water matters to them personally. In addition, the project is strongly committed to growing a conservation ethic and improving Great Lakes literacy by building support and capacity for shared governance. Strategies include: fostering engagement and citizenship, our affinity to each other, and to our love of water and place can be used as a catalyst for public dialogue about water resources, and that shared cultural experiences contribute to a sense of place and communal identity.


  • Jon Allan, Director, Michigan Office of the Great Lakes
  • Office of the Governor
  • Cranbrook Institute of Science
  • Kalamazoo Nature Center
  • MSU Museum


  • Michigan Office of the Great Lakes
  • Erb Foundation
  • Mott Foundation


C. Kurt Dewhurst

Director for Arts and Cultural Partnerships, Office for Public Engagement and Scholarship
Curator of Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Michigan State University Museum
Professor, Department of English
University Outreach and Engagement Campus Senior Fellow

Office for Public Engagement and Scholarship