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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Frederick M. Lorenz
SISME 490
Seattle Campus

Special Topics

Content varies.

Class description

WATER AND SECURITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST Fall Quarter, 2005 5 Credits, Monday and Wednesday 1:30 to 3:20 Water is first and foremost an essential biological need. As the amount of available fresh water in the world decreases in quality and quantity, development and protection of this critical resource becomes a matter of international security. In the Middle East, fresh water is likely to become more important than oil. This course will take an interdisciplinary approach, beginning with an overview of the scientific and hydrological factors that are critical to understanding the subject. By studying three major river basins in the Middle East, students will explore the historic, geographic, political, environmental and legal factors that lead to conflict or cooperation. The Tigris-Euphrates basin is considered the cradle of civilization, but Turkey controls the headwaters of the Euphrates River, and the downstream Arab states, Syria and Iraq, are highly dependent on the flow of fresh water. Turkey is in the process of building a major hydropower and irrigation system that will significantly diminish the flow to its neighbors. For the Nile, the conditions are reversed, with the most powerful river state, Egypt, in the downstream position. In the Jordan River Basin, control of the dwindling water supply has been a major factor in regional conflict. Contested claims over surface and underground water resources permeate all other concerns about ideology, national security, economic and social well-being, and international politics. The focus of the course will be an attempt to answer a fundamental question: What can nations do to develop their common water resources in a cooperative, sustainable and equitable manner, thereby avoiding the risk of violent conflict in the region? The lecturer is currently involved in water and security research in the Euphrates-Tigris Basin; he traveled in the Jordan Basin with the former Water Minister of Jordan in the summer of 2004. The course will provide first-hand accounts of conditions in the three basins. During the course students will participate in role-playing “exercises” in which they will represent different countries and organizations in the three river basins. This will be a writing course, with no final exam. Students and graduate students from all relevant disciplines are welcome, including international studies, history, environmental engineering and water resources management.

For further information contact: Frederick Michael Lorenz, JD, LLM lorenz@u.washington.edu

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

See Description, above.

Recommended preparation

See Description

Class assignments and grading

Three papers assigned, two short, and one longer research paper. There will also be student role playing "exercises."

This is a writing course that will include: Two short papers, each about 1250 words(5 typewritten pages) One final paper- about 2500 words (10 typewritten pages)

Each short paper will be 20% of the final grade, and the long paper will be 40% of the final grade. Class participation will be 20% of the final grade.

All papers must be handed in class on the scheduled due date. This policy is necessary to grade all papers under identical circumstances.


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.
Last Update by Frederick M. Lorenz
Date: 05/19/2005