Water and the Environment (Gen Ed 1158)





How does the water cycle change us, and how do we change it?


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Kaighin McColl

What do landslides in Brazil, droughts in California, mass migration in Syria and the collapse of Mayan civilization all have in common? Water. This course introduces students to the terrestrial water cycle: how it works, how humans manipulate it, and how it manipulates us. Students will learn about the major components of the terrestrial water cycle, including precipitation, evapotranspiration, runoff and streamflow, and saturated and unsaturated subsurface flow. We will also learn about the causes and consequences of natural hazards associated with the water cycle -- including floods, landslides and droughts – and examine several case studies, with a focus on human impacts. The course will consider how the water cycle has contributed to the demise of past civilizations, and explore implications for modern society in a warming world.

Course poster for Gen Ed 1158 that includes brief description of course and images of water in different forms.

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