InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Water Sustainability in Cities
 Earth-focused Modules and Courses for the Undergraduate Classroom
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These materials are part of a 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 materials are free 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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Water Sustainability in Cities

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 15, 2016

Summary

This nine-unit module addresses the grand challenge of water system sustainability in cities, and includes aspects of hydrologic and atmospheric processes, clean water, low-impact development, green infrastructure, flood risk, and climate variability. The module consists of nine integrated lessons spanning approximately three weeks of classroom instruction. The lessons use data-driven exercises and the flipped classroom pedagogical approach. The lessons provide a foundation in urban water systems, basic hydrologic and atmospheric processes, and sustainable and resilient infrastructure planning and decision making. Overall, the module highlights the benefits of the interconnections of geoscience, engineering, and other disciplines in the pursuit of water sustainability in cities.

Strengths of the Module

  • This module is designed to fuse geoscience elements of hydrologic science, atmospheric science, and biological science with sustainability concepts, systems thinking, planning, and engineering in a manner that illustrates the value of this diverse knowledge for urban water system planning.
  • The varied use of flipped and traditional units with consistent use of data-enabled exercises set in place-based case study learning opportunities is also a strength. Individual and team assessments of student learning are included.
  • Although designed as an integrated module, sufficient information and guidance is provided to enable instructors to incorporate individual units, activities, and components of activities into courses.
  • Finally, a major strength of the module is linking the team project to the individual units to provide lesson learning exercises in the context of bigger picture and opportunities for metacognition reflecting on past material and applying it in new ways.

Students who learn with this module will:

  • Explain water sustainability concepts
  • Use systems thinking to enhance water sustainability in cities
  • Apply knowledge and skills from atmospheric science and hydrologic science in planning and engineering contexts
  • Create and evaluate alternative plans to improve sustainability of water management systems in cities

NGSS Logo Very Small

These materials have been reviewed for their alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards. At the top of each page, you can click on the NGSS logo to see the specific connections. Visit InTeGrate and the NGSS to learn more about the process of alignment and how to use InTeGrate materials to implement the NGSS.

NGSS in this Module

This module has a very strong grounding in engineering design, and integrates the concepts of the hydrologic cycle and design thinking to address real-world problems. Each unit could be easily adapted to look at local urban environments and local buildings.

A great fit for courses in:

  • environmental science
  • civil engineering
  • geology
  • geography
  • water resources
  • environmental geology
  • earth science
  • global change

The Water Sustainability in Cities module is designed to fit into a curriculum at the advanced undergraduate level (juniors and seniors), for students majoring in geoscience, planning, and engineering. A necessary background in basic math and science is required with a working knowledge of sustainability concepts and novice skills in geoscience data analysis using computer programs and spreadsheets. The module, individual units, and activities all may be scaled for use in introductory or graduate courses. Case studies of instructor application are provided on these web pages to describe experiences using the module, units, and activities in a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses at different levels. This should help instructors adapt the module for a wide range of course needs.

Supported Earth Science Literacy Principles:

  • Big Idea 3. Earth is a complex system of interacting rock, water, air, and life.
  • Big Idea 5: Earth is the water planet.
  • Big Idea 7: Humans depend on Earth for resources.
  • Big Idea 8. Natural hazards pose risks to humans.
  • Big Idea 9. Humans significantly alter the Earth.

Supported Essential Principles of Climate Science:

2. Climate is regulated by complex interactions among components of the Earth system.

4. Climate varies over space and time through both natural and man-made processes.

5. Climate varies over space and time through both natural and human-made processes.

6. Human activities are impacting the climate system.

7. Climate change will have consequences for the Earth system and human lives.

Addressed grand challenges in Earth and environmental science:

  • Recognizing the signal within the natural variability
  • Quantifying consequences, impacts, and effects
  • Effectively communicating uncertainty and relative risk

Addressed 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.


Instructor Stories: How this module was adapted
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These materials are part of a 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 »