Runnins River Project

As part of its Urban Mission of service to the community, Professors John Looney Jr. and Richard Gelpke of the Department of Geography at the University of Massachusetts Boston have been involved in training and educating earth science, geography and social studies teachers at summer professional development institutes. They have worked with teachers on the Massachusetts Studies Project, emphasizing Massachusetts Watershed and Massachusetts physical and historical geography. While the art and science of Geography has changed, and the Department has adapted and changed to include use of technology, for example, one constant has been locational analysis which requires a knowledge of maps and mapping.

Professors John Looney Jr. and Richard Gelpke have also been involved in outreach projects with high school students in Providence, Rhode Island, on a Nynex grant to study pollution in the Runnins River, and a Healey Grant to study the Neponset River with juniors and seniors from West Roxbury High School.

The Runnins River grant was focused upon water pollution, both underground and surface. This river flows between Massachusetts and Rhode Island and empties into Narragnsett Bay. High levels of pollution have closed the shell fishing beds there.

The Neponset River flows across the fall line into Dorchester Bay. Coastal beaches and the Bay have been polluted but the pathogens are decreasing in amount. 

As a result of these projects, Professors Looney and Gelpke are convinced that high school students can undertake meaningful research and study on watersheds. Data collected can be transmitted by the Internet and overall learning can be increased through contemporary technology. Data collected can be shared and compared, and therefore made more meaningful. The data and work on the Runnins and Neponset are offered from a standpoint of both what and how. If you want 1st person consultation about these projects, contact or

Boston Harbor Basin Map: Includes Neponset Watershed

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