Unlocking the Real Worth of Water|
Spring 2014 not offered
|Certificates: Environmental Studies|
Water is simultaneously priceless and worthless. Water conservation is vital yet unsustainable. We purify it only to blend it with our feces. We destroy it to produce useless items; meanwhile 5,000 kids die each day without it. This course reframes our modern decisions--trade, aid, food, work, freedom, democracy--through the timeless lens of scarce water. It tackles the political and economic paradoxes of water that so confounded even Galileo, Adam Smith, Alexander Hamilton, and Ben Franklin and drive our modern world to require 40 percent more water by 2030 than the earth can physically provide. Some say water stress triggered the Arab Spring and believe that uprising to be the dawn of increasingly fatal, thirst-driven conflicts. Are we bound for a global water-constrained Armageddon, as otherwise optimistic leaders predict? Or is there a new virtual key that may reverse scarcity and reveal water's true value for all species, especially our own?
This course will deepen students' grasp and estimation of fresh water in daily decisions as they discover water's complex socioeconomic linkages, take ownership of its inherent risks, appreciate its corresponding rights and responsibilities, and engage in negotiating and bartering of dominion shares of this precious liquid asset in a way that reveals water's value in exchange.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Lecture / Discussion||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Prerequisites: [E&ES197 or BIOL197] OR E&ES199
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ENVS)
World Economic Forum, WATER SECURITY. Island Press, Washington DC, 2011.
Tony Allan, VIRTUAL WATER. I.B. Tauris & Co., London, 2011.
David Zetland, THE END OF ABUNDANCE. Aguanomics Press, Amsterdam, 2011.
Charles Fishman, THE BIG THIRST. Free Press, New York, 2011.
James Workman, HEART OF DRYNESS. Walker & Co, New York, 2009.
Peter Barnes, WHO OWNS THE SKY? Island Press, Washington DC, 2001.
James Salzman, THIRST: A SHORT HISTORY OF DRINKING WATER. Duke University, 2006.
James Workman, A VITAL CONFLUENCE OF INDIVIDUALS & IDEAS. SIWI, Stockholm, 2010.
J. Workman & M. Simus, THE WEALTH OF THIRSTY NATIONS. Praeger, Phoenix, AZ, 2011.
|Examination and Assignments: |
Your seminar grade will be comprised of five parts:
-Class participation, especially on role playing negotiations.
-Quality and quantity of responses to online water blogs
-Three topic papers, compressed through revision down to 600 word op-eds
-Wiki--on the water use, productivity and valuation status of student's home city, county, state and region.
-Final paper, apply lessons to current problem in specific region, sector, institution.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
-Grasp the human history of thirst, and why water scarcity is both global and local issue, and how population growth and affluence combine in unprecedented way.
-Appreciate & quantify the amounts of "virtual water" embedded in and traded through all goods and services throughout the world.
-Enhanced knowledge and accounting of different withdrawals of freshwater: ground vs. surface, and color classifications: green, blue, grey, black, and purple
-Understand of the complex ways that water interacts with--and is threatened by democracy, capitalism, and global commerce
-Enhanced ability to think about challenges posed by scarcity in cultural contexts--universal human rights vs. pure tradable commodity
-Appreciate the force of geographic context as a starting point in all decisions about water use, access, development and exchanges.
-Make strong connections with water use at level of individual student, family household, and home city/town/county.
-Deeper knowledge about the environmental politics about a particular country and transboundary watersheds linking that nation to its neighbor(s) upstream and down.
-Engagement with current online water accountability blogs, where reporters devote energies almost exclusively to water issues.
-Greater sense of empowerment to effect change in water politics from the ground up, "voting" daily with each decision to purchase (or decline to purchase) goods and services based on water footprint.
I hope that you will look to me as a resource. I highly encourage you to take advantage of my office hours to stop by and talk about issues raised in the course or other questions you have. I am very open to feedback about the course and would appreciate you sharing any thoughts you might have for improvement earlier rather than later in the semester. I am very excited about this course, and I hope that we can all have an interesting and productive semester!