11.S196 | Spring 2011 | Undergraduate

Global Freshwater Crisis



While the first half of the Global Freshwater Crisis course addresses the challenges of this immensely complex global water problem, the second half of the course is focused on solutions, the hope that in the 21st century we learn to share water resources fairly among people and the planet.

The Term Project should address a topic of your choice related to “solutions” to the Global Freshwater Crisis. These can be engineering and technology solutions (i.e. groundwater recharge, wetlands treatment, ozone disinfection, etc.) and/or can look to the human institutions needed to accomplish the task (i.e. laws, regulations, policies, enforcement, contracting out water supply services to private companies with transparency in contracts and performance and a system of fines and rewards for failing or surpassing water quality standards, getting the incentives and rewards right so humans will find or invent and then invest in the technologies to solve the problem in specific places).


Select a topic of choice and pick one format type from the two listed below. The length of the term paper should be a maximum of 8 to 10 pages or 3,200 – 4,000 words, single-spaced, 12 point font, not including figures, images, data sets, tables, annexes. The Term Project is due Week #9.

  • Interview: Water Experts and/or Oral Histories: Identify someone whom you think brings valuable expertise or knowledge to some aspect of the global freshwater crisis. Set up an interview with that person. Examples and guidelines will be provided.
  • Policy Memo: Students can opt to write one substantial policy or planning memo in response to an actual situation, drawing on course readings and additional materials drawn from your research. In this memo, students will make policy/plan recommendations regarding some technology, policy, plan, design, implementation strategy, etc. they see as appropriate for the given circumstance.

Extra Credit

The following two assignments can be completed for extra credit:

  • Further Development of Term Project: After receiving a grade on your Term Project, it will be an option for students to further develop this work and hand it in a second time during Week #14.
  • In-Class Tutorial: Using source materials derived from references from the course readings and from your Term Project, each student will be given the option to present their Term Project topic to the class. A reading assignment, short video, Web URL or other background information should be identified and provided to the course instructors at least 3 days prior to class.