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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Julian D. Olden
FISH 101
Seattle Campus

Water and Society

Examines ecological and social issues associated with water resources as human populations increase and climate warms.

Class description

Water will be the Oil of the 21st century and beyond- the invaluable commodity that determines the wealth of nations, and the health of humans and the freshwater ecosystems upon which we depend. Mark Twain once said "Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over." We all know too well the importance of clean, fresh water; but do you know the real reasons why water shortages have led to environmental degradation and intense social conflicts throughout the globe? Many of the most dangerous human diseases are water-borne; how are society's actions exacerbating these? Why is the biodiversity of freshwater ecosystems the most imperiled on the planet? Is Seattle really a 'wet' place or are we running out of sustainable water supplies? This course will examine these and many related questions to improve our understanding of human dependencies and effects on freshwater ecosystems.

Student learning goals

As a result of this course, students will have a strong understanding of the tight linkages between water, the environment, and human society. Specifically, this course aims to i) introduce students to contemporary issues and challenges in freshwater ecology and resource management; ii) develop student’s skills to critically evaluate scientific information; iii) develop student’s writing skills to effectively communicate issues to a variety of audiences; iv) increase awareness that human existence depends on a supply of clean and abundant water; and v) explore ways that individuals and society can reduce their impacts on water resources.

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Course website
Last Update by Julian D. Olden
Date: 10/19/2011