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Objectives

  • Students will learn to understand and address that water problems require a systemic analytical framework that includes explicit recognition of coupling and interdependencies between natural and societal domain.
  • Students will learn that resolution of water problems will require interdisciplinary approaches that are purposeful, disciplined, and integrative.
  • Students will learn that resolution of water problems will require interdisciplinary approaches that are purposeful, disciplined, and integrative.
COURSE GOALS
The overarching aim of this seminar is to prepare a new generation of interdisciplinary water professionals who will think across boundaries, emphasize integration of knowledge, link knowledge and action from multiple perspectives to help reduce water conflicts and increase the distribution of benefits among partners through mutual gains negotiations. Rather than start at the disciplinary level, students will begin by defining the issues and problems of water use and management from multiple perspectives. They will learn “systems thinking” and apply effective combination of analytical tools from appropriate disciplines to develop possible solutions.  We have four goals within the framework of a carefully integrated set of activities to achieve our aim. They are to:
  1. Understand tensions and complementarities between science and policy to design integrated approaches to address water conflicts through mutual gains negotiations;
  2. Integrate joint fact finding methodologies to iteratively refine the problem definition before attempting to find solutions;
  3. Create collaborative opportunities by establishing an academic culture which promotes dual-mentoring, co-teaching of classes, and co-publication of findings on jointly defined water conflicts; and
  4. Design integrative activities to develop and sustain a community of scholars and provide a “common experience” to all participating students and faculty.
Three different modules will be developed; a unique feature of these planned modules is the student-teacher partnership in the development and offering of these modules. Social science students will help teach economics and policy, and science and engineering students will help teach the water science and systems. Three key components of our seminar are as follows: 

Module-M1a Water Science and Systems:
This module will be required for all social science and diplomacy students, and co-taught by Islam and students from natural sciences and engineering. Involvement of faculty experts in water science and systems will ensure that course content is rigorous but not necessarily filled with disciplinary jargon, while student-faculty partnerships will bring in fresh perspectives to offer the content in a contextual and relevant format. It will emphasize concepts and methodologies rather than tools and implementation. Topics will include fundamentals of hydrologic cycle and hydrologic processes at various scales; science of water systems and multi-objective optimization.

Module-M1b Policy Sciences and Environmental Economics:
This module will be required of all natural science and engineering students and co-taught by students and faculty from social sciences and diplomacy. Topics will include introduction to the legal and regulatory foundations of environmental and natural resource policy at the national and international levels with specific attention to water as well as issues of externalities, property rights, public goods, public choice, and public trust. It will also cover identification of alternative options, economic assessment of those options, role of vested interests that might oppose particular rational strategies, and how to develop policies that take political realities into account.
 
Module-M2 Water: Conflicts, Negotiations, and Cooperation:
This module will be required for all students, and will build on the concepts and methodologies covered in the above two modules. It will focus on water conflicts, negotiations and cooperation and integrate scientific origins of water conflicts with negotiation theory. It will emphasize both quantitative and descriptive approaches to analyzing water conflicts through negotiations utilizing the mutual gains approach developed at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard law School. Students will test their understanding of these principles by participating in a new complex negotiation simulation exercises on water cooperation and conflicts. We will develop this simulation, working collaboratively with students and faculty. The simulation will also be made widely available to project partners, other universities, and training institutions dealing with these issues.

EXPECTED STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES:
During the course, students will learn that:
  1. Understanding and addressing water problems require a systemic analytical framework that includes explicit recognition of coupling and interdependencies between natural and societal domain.
  2. Resolution of water problems will require interdisciplinary approaches that are purposeful, disciplined, and integrative.
  3. Water problems cross boundaries - physical, political, economic, and institutional - and span a range of temporal and spatial scales.
COURSE SCHEDULE AND STRUCTURE:
The course will be structured in three phases: (1) Learning the Material through disciplinary ground; (2) Getting into it; and (3) Making sense of it all. There will be assigned readings, lectures, independent literature research, discussions, and student projects. Students will be expected to acquire an understanding of the competition between natural and societal domain as a driver of historical, contemporary, and emerging water problems across the globe; become well-versed in the scientific basis and policy implications of six key attributes, and learn the key elements of effective communication of scientific knowledge to those engaged in the policy process. Students will be expected to engage in independent research on a topic, work with a team to make presentations, and participate in discussion and role-playing exercises.