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Quantitative Analysis and Writing in the Disciplines

Understanding Water Crises

“The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity.” Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations.

Despite the recognized importance of water, almost 800 million people worldwide lack access to clean, potable water.  The impacts of this lack of access to water falls disproportionately on children, who suffer from a higher rate of water-borne diseases than adults, and on women and girls, who spend a disparate amount of time collecting water for their families.  Even in developed countries that have advanced water treatment options, hundreds of thousands of people struggle to afford access to clean water and suffer the ill effects from water contamination.

In this class, we will explore the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to water crises from around the world.  Through course readings and class discussions, we will seek to answer the following - What are the drivers of water crises and how do they differ across time, space, and human populations? Who is affected by these crises and how? What factors contribute to water crises and what can we do about them?  

This course will foreground our exploration of water issues as we use writing to document, synthesize, analyze, and communicate about water issues.  Coursework will include lower-stakes assignments that focus on analyzing readings and writing process as well as larger, scaffolded projects that will help students develop and hone their writing skills.  Students will have some choice in the type of writing assignments they do, as this course aims to allow students to write in genres that suit their backgrounds and interests.  We will spend some time analyzing the numbers and data behind water crises, as well as learning ways to communicate quantitative information.

Through this course, students will:

  • Learn more about the conventions of genres and of language;
  • Develop skills to write in different genres, with a specific purpose and audience, using standard rhetorical techniques;
  • Grow as a writer, by improving writing skills and writing process;
  • Gain skills in analyzing numerical data and in interpreting quantitative information;
  • Improve their water literacy;
  • Develop quantitative reasoning skills.