Short Memos

The debate questions below are designed to serve as the basis for class discussion. All students are required to submit at least five memos during the first three sections of the course. Memos should be no longer than 500 words. In each memo, you should defend your position on one of the debate questions by applying concepts presented in the assigned reading. You will receive written feedback on your memos during the course of the semester. They are due by 10 pm on the Monday before the class in which the assigned reading will be discussed. They will be graded “check plus” (3 points), “check” (2 points), or “check minus” (1 point). The five memo responses will count for 10% of the final grade.

Memo 1 (pick one question):

  • How does the water diplomacy framework differ from conventional scientific approaches?
  • How can joint fact-finding (JFF) resolve disputes? What are the key obstacles of JFF? Try to refer to an existing (or past) water (or environmental) conflict.
  • How can value be created in transboundary water negotiations/cooperation? How does value creation relate to efforts to resolve water conflicts?

Memo 2 (pick one question):

  • Imagine two scenarios of a hypothetical river basin: (a) with political border; (b) without political border. What difference you can observe in terms of transboundary conflicts and cooperation?
  • Do you foresee any “water war”? Justify your position.
  • “Conflict and cooperation coexist.” Justify your position.
  • How can water security be defined? Why it is important in water diplomacy?

Memo 3 (pick one question):

  • How has the practice of water resource management evolved over time? Do you observe any transition in policy and practice?
  • What is new in the Water-Energy-Food nexus? Why it is important in water diplomacy?
  • How can water diplomacy be useful for implementing Sustainable Development Goals and Integrated Water Resource Management?

Memos 4 and 5 (pick two questions):

  • Which lessons did you learn from the US-Mexico case presented by Dr. Bruno Verdini Trejo?
  • Which lessons did you learn from the Nile River case presented by Dr. Yasmin Zaerpoor?
  • Which lessons did you learn from the Indus/Jordan River case presented by Prof. Shafiqul Islam?

Indopotamia Game

Participation in and reflection on the in-session role-play simulation called the Indopotamia Game are required. The Indopotamia Game offers an opportunity for students to apply the ideas and techniques discussed throughout the semester. The game deals with the political and scientific disputes that arise in the context of negotiations over water quality, water allocation, water security, rights to water, and the deployment of relevant technologies. A one-page reflection will be due after each of the segments. Participation and reflections will count for 10% of the final grade.

Reflection 1

  • How did you try to discover the interests of the other parties? What questions were the most productive?
  • How did you build your credibility with the other stakeholders?
  • What helpful things did the mediator do?
  • Did you try for the winning coalition or blocking coalition?
  • Did you try to consider the Water Diplomacy Framework while following the confidential instruction?

Reflection 2

  • What happened in your group? What agreements, if any, were reached?
  • What part of any agreement is most vulnerable to future perturbations?

Case Study

Each student will write a 12–15 page (single-spaced) case study of a water conflict. Paper topics are due in week 4. A draft of the case study is due in week 8. This draft will not be graded, but will be reviewed in the hope that the final version of the case study (that will be published in the AquaPedia case study database at can be as strong as possible. The final case study, which is due in week 12, will count for 35% of the final grade. Late submissions will not be accepted.

Examples of student-written case studies from spring 2021:

Oral Presentation

Each student must make a 20-minute oral presentation of their case study in week 9, 10, or 11. The presentation will count for 25% of the final grade.

Written Commentaries

Each student is required to serve as a commentator on two of the cases prepared by other students in the class. Everyone in the class is required to indicate to the co-instructors by week 5 the two cases they wish to comment on. Commentaries should point out the strengths of the case presentation and suggest possible improvements. The two commentaries will count for 5% of the final grade.

Class participation

You are required to attend all scheduled class meetings unless you have requested an exception (one per semester) or have a medical emergency. Participation will count for 15% of the final grade.

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

assignment_turned_in Written Assignments with Examples
theaters Lecture Videos
assignment_turned_in Presentation Assignments with Examples