This course examines the forces and factors that impact water management, the meteorologic and natural drivers to precipitation, droughts, and climatic extremes, the interplay with governmental priorities, and the human rights of populations impacted by water abundance and scarcity. Material covered will include the science behind the hydrologic cycle, how and why droughts and floods occur, the statistical reckoning of extreme events, the politics and economics of water resource management, the technological underpinnings and constraints, and the historical context for conflicts over use. In addition, the course will address ethical questions related to water and sanitation as a “human right” and what is meant by that pronouncement. Specific attention will be focused on the broader implications of urbanization, development, and land occupation by marginalized populations, and the disproportionate human and societal costs borne by disadvantaged communities. Within the context of water management, flooding and water scarcity, readings and discussions will examine the interplay of systemic issues which exacerbate inequities and how infrastructure investments and engineering interventions can be used to enhance the equity and welfare of these populations. Ethical questions will be posed to the students about how water is managed and delivered, and how planning is conducted to meet present and future water needs. Throughout the course, the students will examine interventions that have successfully been employed, including technological, political, and economical actions to address the identified issues. The scope will look at broad, regional, and multinational conflicts, and local issues as well. Since the course will look at the broader societal issues through the lens of water, specific technological focus will be placed on water quality and quantity. In addition to regular lecture and discussion-based learning, students will participate in field trips to the local water treatment facility, the wastewater treatment facility, and the Venice lagoon flood gates, etc.
1. Understand the science and underlying technical principles of the water cycle and meteorologic phenomena
2. Understand the political and historical context for water conflicts
3. Understand and analyze the impact of resource constraints on marginalized populations
4. Address ethical questions related to resource allocation, use and abuse
5. Understand the engineering processes in the treatment and distribution of water and the collection and treatment of wastewater
Instruction will be lecture-based, but students will engage in active learning, problem solving, field trips, and other experiential learning activities. Collaborative tasks and innovation challenges will be woven throughout the course to allow students to address open-ended problems and conceptualize and recommend creative empowering solutions.
Students will be expected to complete the assigned work and actively participate in class discussions. Collaborative learning will be encouraged. Additional assistance outside of class for assignments will be provided as needed.
5% - Water as a Resource - Reflection/Paper
10% - Water as a Resource – Group Project/Presentation
10% - Water as a Resource – Quiz
5% - Geopolitics of Water – Reflection/Paper
10% - Geopolitics of Water – Group Project/Presentation
10% - Geopolitics of Water – Quiz
5% - The Future of Water – Reflection/Paper
10% - The Future of Water – Group Project/Presentation
10% - The Future of Water – Quiz
25% - Final Exam
Schedule of Covered Topics:
Week of September 18
_Introduction to the Course and the Future of “Water”
_Understanding the Hydrologic Cycle
Week of September 25
_Where Does Our Water Come From?
_How Do We Use Water? (Paper/Reflection Due)
Week of October 2
_Water Quantity Extremes: Floods vs. Droughts
_Water as a Resource Group Presentation
Week of October 9
_Water Quality – How do we make water “Clean”?
_Water as a Resource Quiz
Week of October 16
_Geopolitics of Water
_Water as a “Right”?
Week of October 23
_Sanitation as a “Right”?
_Economics of Water (Paper/Reflection Due)
Week of October 30
Midterm Break – NO CLASS
Week of November 6
_Water, Sustainability and Resilience
_Geopolitics of Water Group Presentation
FRIDAY – Field trip to Water Treatment Facility (tbc)
Week of November 13
_Past, Present, and Future Water Conflicts
_Geopolitics of Water Quiz
Week of November 20
_The Future of Water
_Regional, National, and Multinational Water Issues
FRIDAY – Field trip to Wastewater Treatment Facility (tbc)
Week of November 27
_Borders, Water Scarcity, and Regional Conflict?
_Cities, Urban Areas, and Future Development (Paper/Reflection Due)
Week of December 4
_Re-Imaging the Future of Water
_The Future of Water Group Presentation
FRIDAY – Field Trip to Lagoon Flood Protection (tbc)
Week of December 11
_Who Controls the Flow? Ethics and Marginalized Populations
_The Future of Water Quiz
Week of December 18
GeoPolitics of Water and Water as a “Right”:
Water Scarcity and the Future of Water:
Last updated: July 18, 2023