Water and Society
Subtopics: overview of socio-political concerns of water; individual and collective consumption practices; commodification
II. Water Inequality
Subtopics: access and distribution as related to socioeconomic status, power, and stratification; environmental justice
III. Energy and Food
Subtopics: fossil fuels, fracking, farming
Case study: Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
IV. Risk and Resilience
Subtopics: climate disruption, floods, sea level rise, vulnerability
Case study: "Flood Risk in Boulder." This case introduces students to likely hazard of flooding in their community, with special attention to the vulnerability of the student population. It provides students the opportunity to explore the risk and resilience associated with their college town.
Case study: "Moving to Higher Ground: Ecosystems, Economics, and Equity in the Floodplain." Link: http://www.sesync.org/ecosystems-economics-and-equity-in-the- floodplain-case-study-5
V. Our Social Institutions
Subtopics: economy and industry, military, religion, the university; current management strategies
VI. Social Action and Social Change
Subtopics: Individual vs. collective action; the role of denial and apocalyptic hysteria;solutions
Students will be able to:
- Describe how water has environmental, sociological and economic components that shape their everyday activities.
- Describe the social inequalities associated with water consumption and distribution.
- Assess water hazards (sea level rise and flooding) that may negatively impact a community.
- Identify relevant stakeholders associated with contemporary water challenges.
Students will be able to:
- Synthesize diverse types and sources of data.
- Critique and synthesize interdisciplinary research.
- Apply interdisciplinary research to best solve contemporary environmental and social problems.
- Students will be offered multiple opportunities to practice the collaboration and creative thinking skills necessary to combat social and environmental challenges.
Based on these concerns, the capstone project for this course is to creatively and collaboratively produce a short PSA (video) in small groups. The PSAs will need to address behavior changes that empower their peers to A) reduce water consumption OR B) improve flood preparedness efforts. The intended audience for the PSAs will be the university's student population. Local and campus-wide sustainability and emergency leaders will be invited to screen the PSAs.
This course is designed to fulfill a variety of needs within my department and university. First, it is intended to satisfy the call for "Special Topics" courses within the sociology department. Second, it aims to carry out the mission of the Peak to Peak (P2P) Initiative (http://www.colorado.edu/academicaffairs/p2p.html). P2P is a project at CU Boulder that seeks to integrate sustainability into the larger learning environment of the university.
Lastly, "water and society" is intended to benefit students not only in academic content and skill-building but also in their personal lives. The U.S. will continue to suffer from pollution, natural disasters, and resource conflict. Therefore the course is intended to help students face contemporary challenges.
References and Notes:
Example "introductory" resources: Postel, Sandra. 2010. "Water adapting to a new normal." The Post Carbon Reader: Managing the 21st Century's Sustainability Crises, Healdsburg, CA: Watershed Media.
Watermark documentary. Link to Information: http://www.edwardburtynsky.com/site_contents/Films/Watermark_Film.html
Example "inequality" resource: Water First: Reaching the Millennium Development Goals documentary. Link to information: http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/wfirst.html
Example "Colorado" reading: Averyt, Kristen et al. Colorado Climate Preparedness Project: Final Report, particularly the "Water Sector in Colorado" chapter. Link: http://wwa.colorado.edu/publications/reports/WWA_ColoClimatePreparednessProject_Report_2011.pdf
Example "social action" reading: Maniates, Michael F. 2001. "Individualization: Plant a tree, buy a bike, save the world?." Global Environmental Politics 1(3):31-52.
Example "flood" reading: Youngman, Nicole. 2009. "Understanding Disaster Vulnerability: Floods and Hurricanes." Pp.176-190 in Twenty Lessons in Environmental Sociology, edited by K. A. Gould and T. L. Lewis. New York: Oxford University Press.
Example "oil spill" reading: Northwest Earth Institute. Just Below the Surface: Perspectives on the Gulf Coast Oil Spill. PDF freely available: http://www.nwei.org/product/just-below-the-surface-pdf/
Example "vulnerability" readings: Lovekamp, William E., and Sara K. McMahon. 2011. "I Have a Snickers Bar in the Trunk of My Car: Student Narratives of Disaster Risk, Fear, Preparedness, and Reflections on Union University." International Journal of Mass Emergencies & Disasters 29(2):132-148.