For the InstructorThese student materials complement the Water, Agriculture, Sustainability Instructor Materials. If you would like your students to have access to the student materials, we suggest you either point them at the Student Version which omits the framing pages with information designed for faculty (and this box). Or you can download these pages in several formats that you can include in your course website or local Learning Managment System. Learn more about using, modifying, and sharing InTeGrate teaching materials.
Unit 2: Water Footprints
In this unit, you will be prompted to learn about just how much water is required to produce common commodities and maintain an American lifestyle. Water that is embedded in products and services is called virtual water and you will no doubt be amazed at how much water is used to produce items like hamburgers and cotton t-shirts. This unit also introduces the concept of a water footprint. A water footprint represents a calculation of the volume of water needed for the production of goods and services consumed by an individual or country. Unit 2 will prompt you to calculate your individual footprint and analyze the great variability in water footprints of people in different countries.
Unit 2 is designed to help you advance in achievement of both Module Learning Goal 1 (Students will explain how fresh water availability and management practices pose threats to ecosystem integrity, human well-being, security, and agricultural production) and Module Learning Goal 2 (Students will explain what goes into the calculation of virtual water amounts and water footprints and the application of these concepts).
This unit is divided into 2 sub-units: Unit 2.1 Virtual Water and Unit 2.2 Water Footprints. Unit 2.1 is designed to take 1.5 hours, so all of one day and half of the next assuming that each of your classes runs for 1 hour. The same goes for Unit 2.2.
Unit 2.1 - Virtual Water
To start learning about virtual water, download the following reading assignment, read two articles, and come up with responses to the thinking prompts included in the document. Your responses to the prompts will form the basis for discussions. Your instructor will let you know if you will have an online discussion on these readings.
Student Handout for Activity 2.1a: Reading Assignment on Virtual Water (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 22kB Aug21 23)
Doing the readings and responding to the thinking prompts, as well as participation in the in-class activities of Unit 2.1, should help you:
- Explain the concept of virtual water and how the amounts of water embedded in commodities varies by commodity and region of production
- Evaluate the pros and cons of virtual water trade.
Activity 1 for Unit 2.1 - Virtual Water Worksheet
The in-class activity of this sub-unit will prompt you and a classmate, working as a pair, to assess a series of virtual water statistics and respond to a series of questions that will help you evaluate the significance of these statistics. What follows is the worksheet you will use in class.
Student handout for Activity 2.1b: Virtual Water Worksheet (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 348kB Jan23 17)
Activity 2 for Unit 2.1 - Virtual Water Debate
After you and your partner have worked through the 3 page handout, you will be asked to get in a small group to discuss the case, both in support and against, the following statement: More of the world should rely on virtual water trade. Your discussion will help you prepare to engage in a class debate on this position (in-class activity 2.1c).
In preparation for the Virtual Water Debate, come to class armed with a list of arguments for and against the statement - More of the world should rely on virtual water trade.
Your instructor will lead you through the debate.
Unit 2.2 - Water Footprints
What is a water footprint and how is calculated? What is your water footprint? This sub-unit provides a framework for you to answer these questions and learn about the great variability of national water footprints per person and how the water footprint of many regions exceeds the natural supply within their basin. If many regions of the world are using more water than they have available, and not everyone is getting the water they need, does that imply that water footprints should be more tightly controlled for the sake of international equity, ecosystem requirements, and long term water sustainability?
To get going in this sub-unit, download the following homework assignment. It asks you to calculate your footprint in 3 ways, read two short articles and answer 3 questions. You will be submitting your responses to the questions for a grade and sharing your water footprint results with classmates in your next class session.
Student Handout for Activity 2.2a: Reading and Homework Assignment on Water Footprints (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 21kB Aug21 23)
Activity for Unit 2.2 - Group Work: Analysis of Individual Water Footprints and Footprints of Nations
For this activity you will work in small groups to analyze various water footprint statistics and figures. You will then apply this information in a discussion of whether or not there should be a maximum allowable water footprint amount per person or nation. The document below is the worksheet for this activity. Note that in includes a series of questions and answer sheet at the end of the document for your collective responses to the questions. Your instructor will be collecting an answer sheet from each small group and may well give points for your answers.
Student Handout for Activity 2.2b: Analysis of Water Footprints (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 305kB Feb24 17)
After you have completed the Analysis of Individual Water Footprints and Footprints of Nations, Unit 2 will be complete.
As a consequence of engaging in this unit on water footprints, you should be able to:
- Explain how water footprints are calculated and differentiate between internal and external water footprints
- Differentiate between green, blue and grey water in water footprint analysis; and
- Interpret individual and national water footprint data and explain how water footprints relate to water scarcity, water degradation, and water-related equity and sustainability.
On to Unit 3!