InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Environmental Justice and Freshwater Resources
InTeGrate's Earth-focused Modules and Courses for the Undergraduate Classroom
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This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
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This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process. This rigorous, structured process includes:

  • team-based development to ensure materials are appropriate across multiple educational settings.
  • multiple iterative reviews and feedback cycles through the course of material development with input to the authoring team from both project editors and an external assessment team.
  • real in-class testing of materials in at least 3 institutions with external review of student assessment data.
  • multiple reviews to ensure the materials meet the InTeGrate materials rubric which codifies best practices in curricular development, student assessment and pedagogic techniques.
  • review by external experts for accuracy of the science content.


This page first made public: Jul 12, 2015

Summary

This module enables students to identify the freshwater components of the hydrologic cycle and connect them to the basic need of all human beings for equal access to clean freshwater. This is accomplished by framing the water science within theories of environmental justice defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as "the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies."

Strengths of the Module

Students work with rainfall, topographic and streamflow data using real examples from the United States–Hawaii, New York, and Texas–and in countries of the Global South–Trinidad, Kenya, and India. Concepts including watersheds, drainage divides, surface water, and groundwater are simultaneously situated amidst questions of environmental equity.

This module also develops students' geospatial reasoning skills. Using Google Earth files, students will explore the history of the Love Canal, including comparing past land use to current use.

The module is unique in that it teaches scientific principles thoroughly embedded in a context that foregrounds the importance of equal access to water as a basic human right. Students will learn about regional water issues in several regions including Trinidad, Kenya, and India.

A great fit for courses in:

  • environmental science
  • environmental sociology
  • environmental justice
  • global change
  • introductory geology
  • sustainability
  • water resources

This module provides materials under the broad topic of freshwater resources and environmental justice and uses methods of investigative cases, gallery walks, and jigsaws for teaching them. The materials are appropriate for introductory physical geology, environmental studies, and global change courses. No prior knowledge of the concept of environmental justice is needed in order to utilize the resources. The module assumes basic understanding of the Earth's interacting systems: geosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and atmosphere. It is designed to be a stand-alone module adaptable for different class sizes and formats.

The module materials support the following NSF Earth Science Literacy Principles:
  • Earth is a complex system of interacting rock, water, air, and life.
  • Earth is continuously changing.
  • Earth is the water planet.
  • Humans depend on Earth for resources.
  • Humans significantly alter the Earth.

The module also addresses the "grand challenges in earth system science for global sustainability":

  • Determine how to anticipate, avoid, and manage disruptive global environmental change.
  • Determine institutional, economic, and behavioral changes to enable effective steps toward global sustainability.
  • Encourage innovation (and mechanisms for evaluation) in technological, policy, and social responses to achieve global sustainability.

Module Goals

  1. Students will be able to articulate the principles of environmental justice as they relate to examples of water scarcity and contamination in varied geographic locations.
  2. Students will be able to propose potential solutions to inequitable access to clean water based on principles of the hydrologic cycle.
  3. Students will be able to connect scientific principles to human rights issues.


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This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »