Morning Lecture: Dan Egan, author,
The Death and Life of the Great Lakes
10:45 a.m. Tuesday, June 25, 2019 - Amphitheater
For thousands of years the pristine Great Lakes were separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the roaring Niagara Falls and from the Mississippi River basin by a “sub-continental divide.” Beginning in the late 1800s, these barriers were circumvented to attract freighters from the Atlantic and to allow Chicago’s sewage to float out to the Mississippi. These were engineering marvels in their time?and the changes in Chicago arrested a deadly cycle of waterborne illnesses?but they have had horrendous unforeseen consequences.
In an age when dire problems like the Flint water crisis or the California drought bring ever more attention to the indispensability of safe, clean, easily available water, Dan Egan’s The Death and the Life of the Great Lakes is a powerful paean to what is arguably our most precious resource, an urgent examination of what threatens it and a convincing call to arms about the relatively simple things we need to do to protect it.
Dan Egan is a reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Brico Fund Senior Water Policy Fellow in Great Lakes Journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's School of Freshwater Sciences’ Center for Water Policy. The author of The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, he has twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and he has won the Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Award, John B. Oakes Award, AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award, and J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.
A native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, he grew to love Lake Michigan by spending summer weekends and vacations on the Door Peninsula, where both sets of his grandparents had summer homes. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree in history in 1989, Egan moved out West and worked as an assistant park historian at Yellowstone National Park. In 1992 he began his newspaper career at the Idaho Mountain Express in Sun Valley Idaho. From there he moved on to newspapers in Idaho Falls, Idaho and Salt Lake City, Utah. During his decade out West, Egan covered a range of environmental issues, including efforts to restore threatened and endangered species like wolves, salmon and grizzly bears. He also covered the Alpine skiing for the Salt Lake Tribune during the 2002 Winter Games.
Egan is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the Columbia School of Journalism.