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A Review of Water Resources Education in Geography Departments in the United States

Authors: Mike Pease*, Central Washington University, Philip L. Chaney, Auburn University
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: water resource, geographic education, curriculum development
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Geographers have long played an important role in water resources scholarship; however,
academic literature has not focused on the teaching contributions of geographers in this area. To address
this gap, we cataloged courses taught and faculty interests for geography departments in the United States
with a stated focus on water resources. We identified 129 departments with both courses and faculty having
water resources expertise. The majority of water-related courses focused on climatology or climate change,
suggesting that students are regularly provided opportunities to learn about water topics primarily through
the lens of climatology and water resources. We also summarize a panel organized at the 2017 American
Association of Geographers Annual Conference that focused on water resources curriculum in geography
programs. The panel discussed curriculum and pedagogical approaches, concluding that a water resources
course syllabi repository would be beneficial for creating new and refining existing water resources courses.
The panel also recommended that faculty consider incorporating water resources topics into their general
education classes to concurrently enhance student learning opportunities and positively impact recruitment
and interest in geography programs. Additionally, online education represents a substantial change in
higher education that presents new challenges and opportunities for geographers. We hope these data and
the summary of the panel session stimulate greater discussions of curricular needs across all disciplines
that offer water resource focused courses.

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