Sustainability is a global concern and the St. Edward’s University faculty is committed to bringing this subject to the forefront in their classrooms. The world’s water resource is one of the most recent sustainability topics to be explored and debated on campus. To help students confront this critical issue, faculty members have developed workshops focused on the international and social justice implications of water use and water allocation. These collaborative sessions reveal ways to respond to the challenges of water supply with meaningful and concrete actions.
Water was at the center of several Fall 2011 Cultural Foundations workshops: History and Evolution of Global Processes; Contemporary World Issues; and Global Water Works: Mediated Solutions in River Basins. The workshops were developed and organized by Christie Wilson and Mity Myhr, associate professors of history, Charles Porter, instructor of history, and Jennifer Phlieger, assistant dean, University Programs.
These activities gave students a valuable understanding of …
the global implications of water use in economics, politics, geography, culture and the environment
the intense competition for water resources and the significant relationship upstream water users have on downstream water users
how water issues are settled around the world through dispute resolution processes such as treaty negotiation, international mediation, arbitration and litigation.
the globally preferred method of water dispute resolution — mediation — through participation in moot mediations
The Fall 2011 workshops were not the first on campus to address the sustainability of water. In Fall 2009, faculty members designed “Water for Life” workshops that tackled such complexities as who controls access to water, who benefits from available water resources and what factors impact the water supply. Students divided into teams, with each assigned to research the water situation in a particular country. The countries represented a variety of different water issues, including scarcity, pollution and competing demands for water use.
While learning about their countries, the teams were approached by mock organizations, such as the United Nations, a lobbyist from private industry, or the World Bank, and presented with potential solutions to their problems. Further, a team could be visited by disaster, natural or man-made, that affected their water situation. Each team was responsible for devising an action plan based on their work and conversations.
Students and faculty at St. Edward’s will continue to build awareness and action around environmental topics. In Spring 2012, the theme for the university’s Global Understanding workshops centers on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Children. One of the MDGs is sustainability.