David Garman

Combining disciplines is the key to dealing with serious freshwater issues. At least, that’s what Dr. David Garman thinks. He’s the founding dean of the School of Freshwater Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee — the only graduate program in the United States that is solely dedicated to the study of fresh water — where the fields of engineering, policy, chemistry, and business come together to address all facets of water challenges.

Much like real-world problems, the program teaches students that no one discipline is independent of any other. In Garman’s case, a background in chemistry led to studying pollution and eventually to academia. “The pollution of the Sydney Harbor is really where it all started,” says Garman, though that was more than 20 years before his current career as an educator.

Garman believes that an interdisciplinary approach can lead to innovative thinking and new models. For instance, he says that “taking technologies and turning them into businesses can make a huge difference.” The progress that is made through collaboration is what we should aim for, according to Garman, because “these problems may never be completely solved.”

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