• Colorado State University

Water Scarcity: Crisis and Response

Learn about water scarcity, exploring why some people don't have enough water, and solutions for ensuring enough water for all.

3,860 enrolled on this course

Water Scarcity: Crisis and Response
  • Duration3 weeks
  • Weekly study3 hours

Understand why and how water scarcity happens and what can be done to help

What happens when water runs out, and why does it occur? How can we ensure an adequate fresh water supply for all?

These are some of the questions you will ask and answer on this course. You will examine the dual nature of water scarcity, first examining reasons for diminishing supplies, like growing human populations, climate, lifestyle, poor water management, and poor governance. You will then learn about the conflicts that arise over water, and most importantly you will learn what can be done to ensure adequate supplies for people and nature.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds Without water, there would be no life. Yet, we tend to take this precious substance for granted. We turn on the tap and fill a glass, and we don’t give much thought to where it comes from, whether we’re running out of it, or how it’s made safe for us to drink. Ben Franklin put it this way, “When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.” For about 780 million people, a tenth of the world’s population, getting water to drink or irrigate crops is an ordeal. And the water they work hard to get may carry disease. When water is scarce, conflicts will inevitably arise. In this course, we will explore the following questions. What is water scarcity?

Skip to 0 minutes and 54 seconds Where is water scarcity a problem, and where is it getting worse? What are the causes of water scarcity? How does scarcity lead to conflict? What can be done to reduce conflict, and improve access to fresh water? I look forward to your joining this course so we can explore these questions and look for solutions together.

What topics will you cover?

  • Hydrologic cycle and water tables
  • Coping with global water scarcity
  • Types of water scarcity
  • Solving the problems of water scarcity
  • What factors lead to water conflicts
  • What factors block solutions and make conflicts worse
  • Governance of water and water boundaries

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore the dual nature and varied causes of freshwater scarcity.
  • Reflect on the conflicts that arise in response to freshwater scarcity.
  • Investigate what can be done to improve access to freshwater for people and nature.
  • Modify your own behavior around water consumption and sustainability.

Who is the course for?

We tend to take water for granted. We turn on the tap, fill a glass, and we don’t give much thought to where it comes from, whether we’re running out of it, or how it’s made safe for us to drink. This course is for anyone interested in learning about water scarcity, sustainability, and conflicts that arise over water. You don’t need any past experience.

Who will you learn with?

Hi! I’m a hydrologist, with a recent Ph.D. in watershed science from Colorado State University, and a previous career with the U.S. Geological Survey where I worked on water quality and quantity.

Who developed the course?

Colorado State University

Colorado State University, a land-grant institution and a Carnegie Doctoral/Research University-Extensive, is one of the United States’ leading research universities.

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: