Go behind the headlines to learn about the issues and advocates involved in recent drinking water crises, including lead in Flint, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Newark, New Jersey; chemicals in Hoosick Falls, New York; and crumbling infrastructure in Puerto Rico. This course will introduce students to basic drinking water science, public health data, laws and regulations, types of lawsuits, and advocacy tools involved in today’s most pressing drinking water threats. We will discuss issues such as environmental justice, citizen science, corporate responsibility, grassroots organizing, and the role of government and law in addressing public health crises. The course is geared towards interested water consumers and students interested in pursuing careers in environmental or public health advocacy alike.
Students will be assigned brief readings drawn from journal and popular news articles and excerpts from nonfiction books, and to view a couple films (either during evening group screenings or independently). In conjunction with this course, and in addition to attending hour-long Friday seminar discussions, students will be expected to attend Friday Log Lunches during Winter Study, which will feature drinking water advocates. Evaluation will be based on class participation and a short (3-5 page) paper and (5-10 minute) presentation on a topic of students’ choice involving a drinking water threat or community that is experiencing or has confronted a drinking water threat.
Adjunct Instructor Bio: Joya Sonnenfeldt ’10 was Williams’ first Environmental Policy major. She also holds a law degree and a masters in environmental management from Yale University. She has spent the majority of her career on the litigation team of the Natural Resources Defense Council, largely working to secure safe drinking water. Most recently, she clerked for the Honorable Patty Shwartz on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Grading: pass/fail only
short paper and final project or presentation
brief statement of interest
approximately $50 for books