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UW’s Saturday U Offers Lectures in Rock Springs April 23

April 13, 2016
head portraits of a man and a woman
Jason Robison and Jacqueline J. Shinker

Southwestern Wyoming residents can attend college for a day when Saturday University is in session Saturday, April 23, in Rock Springs.

The spring term of Saturday University -- the University of Wyoming’s popular, free college education program -- concludes with two UW professors and a Western Wyoming Community College (WWCC) faculty member lecturing. Understanding the Yellowstone River Compact, looking at drought issues in the Intermountain West and studying climate change are topics that will be discussed in Room 1309 at WWCC. The program is free and open to the public.

The half-day of college classes and discussion begins at 8:30 a.m., followed by a welcoming address at 8:50 a.m. The guest lectures begin at 9 a.m. Lunch will be provided following the lectures at 12:30 p.m.

In its eighth year, Saturday U is a collaborative program that connects popular UW and Wyoming community college professors with lifelong learners. Offered multiple times a year -- twice each in Jackson, Gillette and Sheridan -- Saturday U is sponsored by the university, the UW Foundation and Wyoming Humanities Council, and is presented locally by WWCC and the UW Outreach School. This is the first Saturday U event in Rock Springs.

Participants may attend one, two or all three lectures.

Listed below are program topic descriptions and professors lecturing:

9 a.m. -- “Montana v. Wyoming: The Yellowstone River Compact in the U.S. Supreme Court,” Jason Robison, assistant professor, UW College of Law.

Robison will discuss how the U.S. Constitution allows states to form domestic “treaties” to reconcile competing interests in interstate rivers. These treaties are called interstate water compacts, and perhaps most significant among them for Wyoming in recent years has been the Yellowstone River Compact. It has been at stake in the Supreme Court case of Montana v. Wyoming since 2007. Robison will survey the history and current status of this litigation.

10:15 a.m. -- “Climate, Drought and Water in the West,” Jacqueline J. Shinker, associate professor, UW Department of Geography.

The Intermountain West contains eight of the nation’s 10 driest states. Many of the region’s water resources depend on the natural reservoirs of seasonal mountain snowpack. Costly droughts in the region impact water resources for agriculture, energy, recreation and municipalities, Shinker says. She will discuss recent droughts in the West, and the impacts of climate on past, present and future water resources.

11:30 a.m. -- “Climate Change in the Alpine Zone,” Craig David Thompson, professor of earth sciences and engineering sciences, Western Wyoming Community College.

Overwhelming scientific evidence is that climate change will be most pronounced at higher latitudes and higher altitudes. High-altitude alpine areas may see rapid ecological change as glaciers disappear. Wyoming's nationally important Wind River Range glaciers buffer against climate change, but are disappearing. Thompson’s presentation will explore the question: “What will happen when the glaciers are gone?”

For more information, visit the Saturday U website at

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