North America is endowed with eight of the twelve largest lakes in the world. The origin and geological history, cycles of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus, and structures of ecosystems of the North American Great Lakes will be used as examples of large lacustrine systems. Fundamental concepts of limnology will be related to features found in the Great Lakes. Topics include: lake origins, lake classification, lake temperature structure and heat budgets, seasonal water circulations, productivity, plankton ecology, food-web dynamics, exotic species invasions, eutrophication-related phenomena and water quality/fisheries management. Specific anthropogenic influences will be illustrated using case studies from the local environment, and students will be allowed to pursue their own interests through a series of short seminars.