Water-Related Environmental Issues
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.
Course: Environmental Science-Water Issues
I have my students brainstorm water-related environmental issues in three categories: local, regional, and non-US (global). I summarize the list into two major categories: too much water or too little water (quantity or quality). Next, I have them brainstorm on the major contributing factors to the listed problems. Class discussion settles on increased demand, especially population growth, as the main driver. We also discuss current strategies for reducing demand.
Many students enter this class with only a general interest in water issues (maybe only because they like to fish!), and haven't spent time thinking about the central role of water and water problems to ecosystem function and society's requirements. Brainstorming allows even the least aware students to come up with some obvious issues, and the list gets fleshed out eventually. The students get into making connections. My role is to prompt links that don't get made readily, and to help students make connections from the abstract to the personal as appropriate (bringing in examples from current events and everyday life).