Water as life, death, and power: Building an integrated interdisciplinary course combining perspectives from anthropology, biology, and chemistry

Cathy Willermet, Anja Mueller, Stephen J. Juris, Eron Drake, Samik Upadhaya, Pratik Chhetri


In response to a request from a campus student organization, faculty from three fields came together to develop and teach an integrated interdisciplinary course on water issues and social activism. This course, “Water as Life, Death, and Power”, brought together topics from the fields of anthropology, biology and chemistry to explore water rights, access to clean water, and water treatment methods. Students enrolled in the course developed interdisciplinary projects related to a variety of local and global water issues to present real-world solutions at a university-wide student research showcase. This article describes the process by which the faculty learning community designed the course as a truly integrated whole, and reflects on the challenges and rewards of teaching a course in this way.


Course design; instructional learning community; water issues; student activism

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ISSN 1527-9316