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Water and Environmental Management (IL9HE3)

Summary

The main aim of this module is to present to students a global topic such as water in its complexity and to engage them so they can discover, research and experiment the great potentialities of an interdisciplinary approach to the matter.

Teaching

This is a five-day intensive module; including lectures, seminars, and tutorials.

The topics covered are:

  • Water – not an ordinary liquid!
  • Ecosystems and water
  • Water sanitation
  • Water ecology – an engineering perspective
  • Water memories
  • Water management

Assessment
  • 1500 word essay (50%)
  • Student devised assessment (50%):

Assessment method designed in collaboration with the tutor whereby the student will create piece of work (i.e. an article, a video, a talk, etc) that offers a solution to a problem or a question that has risen during the module. Students will be free to select their preferred topic/question and subsequently they will undertake their own research utilising the methodologies and the holistic approach presented throughout the course. Their piece of work will be presented in front of their peers and the tutor. The theory and the ideas explored in the work will be discussed and feedback offered. Students will be marked on the quality of their work (form and theory) as well as on the basis of their contribution to the discussion of other students’ pieces.

Illustrative syllabus

The module will consist of 5 days sessions. The module leader will attend all of each session, to integrate and stimulate the interdisciplinary learning.

The core design is that each day the module leader and subject specialists will choose how they wish to deliver a combination of discipline or application grounded material with activities that will allow the students (with the module leader) to develop their learning in an interdisciplinary style that will help them to explore and deepen their knowledge of that day’s theories and set texts/materials. Active learning methods (i.e. Team Based Learning; Open Space Learning) will be implemented in order to heighten student engagement and understanding of the week’s topic.

Water – not an ordinary liquid!

The module leader will introduce the module and deliver a lecture that will permit students to scientifically explore this little molecule that has shaped our history. We will look at water’s unusual physical properties (i.e. it is one of only a very small number of molecules which expand when cooled) and how it ‘dodges’ chemical rulings. In particular, we will analyse water’s ingenious chemistry and how its peculiar propensity for bonding – with itself and with almost all other substances – accounts for its extraordinary versatility as a solvent, as a chemical reactant, as a barely compressible liquid, as a solid that can adopt umpteen crystal forms and as the vital context for the DNA, RNA and proteins that have concocted all living things – or at least the ones that we know of.

In summary, the lecture will help students to understand how exceptional and out of ordinary is this liquid that we take for granted but we still don’t understand. “Of all known liquids,” wrote the great water chemist Felix Franks, “water is probably the most studied and least understood.”

Ecosystems and water

Expert from School of Life Sciences
Although much of the water cycle is controlled by physical processes, ecosystems, and in particular, wetland ecosystems such as rivers, lakes, marshes and coastal areas provide many ‘services’ that contribute to human well-being. Examples of such ecosystem services are the regulation of flooding, erosion protection, soil formation, the retention, recovery and removal of excess nutrients and pollutants, and provision of habitats for resident and transient species (e.g. migratory birds). This lecture will consider the diversity and importance of ecosystem services related to water and will discuss some of the pressures that industry, agriculture and other human activities puts on them.

Water sanitation

Sanitation is the hygienic means of promoting health through prevention of human contact with the hazards of wastes as well as the treatment and proper disposal of sewage or wastewater. A sanitation system has as input human wastes and often other wastes such as ‘grey’ water. Various stages of water management strongly affect the incidence of faecal-oral diseases, and in this lecture, the techniques of storage, transportation, concentration and different sanitation techniques will be presented.

Water ecology – an engineering perspective

Expert from School of Engineering will present to students the aspects of water engineering. In particular, he will focus on environmental and water ecology problems and he will help students to understand the fate of soluble pollutants and contaminated fine sediments within rivers, urban drainage systems and the coastal environment.

The workshop that will follow the lecture will be a field study on campus. Students will identify and quantify the dominant transport and mixing processes of pollutants running a field experiment on one of the water stream of Warwick campus.

Water memories

Experts from the Centre for Cultural Policy Studies and the Centre of Interdisciplinary Methodologies will give two lectures about the relationship between culture and water, rivers, flooding/drought. In a time when flooding, drought and water management (particularly in cities) is a growing future global concern, they will draw students’ attention to the issues linked to the cultural management of water, the social value of city rivers and the concept of memorialising floods using digital media.

Water management

This lecture will discuss about the sustainable water management. Water is used by human beings in enormous quantities. Many societies use over 300 litres per inhabitant per day. The main uses of water are classified as domestic, irrigation, industrial, transport, recreational, water for livestock and fish production. Sustainability is a big issue, both in its resource/environmental sense and in its organisational aspects. Water resources management will have to continue to adapt to the current and future issues facing the allocation of water. With the growing uncertainties of global climate change and the long term impacts of management actions, the decision-making will be even more difficult.

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Women washing clothes in the river

“Of all known liquids,” wrote the great water chemist Felix Franks, “water is probably the most studied and least understood.”