University of Michigan-Flint offering free water course for students, others

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FLINT (WJRT) - (01/06/16) - The University of Michigan Flint is offering a special water course to help people filter through the complexities of Flint's Water Emergency.

"Only when a crisis occurs do people realize that there's a whole infrastructure to the public health system that is often ignored," said Dr. Suzanne Selig, director of the Department of Public Health and Health Services. "And in times of economic distress, (it's) often relegated to a very, very low priority."

Starting Jan. 21, the school is offering a one-credit course on Flint's water crisis, which centers around the lead contamination.

"We wanted to develop a class that was both timely but structured in a way that would enable and allow our community an opportunity to have dialogue with our students and with experts who have part of the water crisis situation," Selig said.

The free course is open to students and anyone else who wants to attend. Topics will include the history of Flint, the river and how the city found itself in a water crisis.

"We're going to have something on the science and the chemistry of the water. We're going to have one that looks at water systems and water infrastructures - so people can have a better understanding of where their water comes from and what happens to their water as it passes through that system," Selig said.

Health policy and regulatory information will be dived into as well, in addition to the politics and economics of the ongoing battle.

"Unfortunately, this crisis occurred here, but this crisis could have occurred elsewhere," Selig said.

Guests speakers will include scientists, researchers, EPA officials, community activists and others.

Selig expects people to walk away smarter and more engaged. She reminds everyone of the residents who spoke up and demanded answers well before a State of Emergency was declared.

"And they were relentless, because initially they were ignored and dismissed," Selig said. "Persistence can pay off."

The university said there's no need to register for the course. The school said Marla Sievers, a University of Michigan graduate student, contributed to the course as well.

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