Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session



Course Description

With increasing public awareness of the multiple effects of global environmental change, the terms water, energy, and food crisis have become widely used in scientific and political debates on sustainable development and environmental policy. Although each of these crises has distinct drivers and consequences, providing sustainable supplies of water, energy, and food are deeply interrelated challenges and require a profound understanding of the political, socioeconomic, and cultural factors that have historically shaped these interrelations at a local and global scale. Using case studies from Latin America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and the United States, this course will examine the historical role of politics, technology, and experts in shaping the complex interrelations between the water, energy, and food crises of the 20th century, and their main challenges for the 21st century. We will pay particular attention to 1) the central place of water in current food and energy security issues, 2) the interrelations between national developments and global processes of change, and 3) the socio-political aspects of policy-making, technological innovation, and behavioral change.

Course Goals & Learning Outcomes

By the end of the semester, students will have developed the following skills:

  • Factual knowledge: Acquire a comparative background in major social, political, ecological, and technological processes in the history of the global water-energy-food crises.
  • Method and analysis: Know how to read different kinds of historical sources and secondary writings by identifying the central arguments, evaluating evidence critically, and recognizing the writers’ perspectives or biases. Demonstrate the ability to use primary and secondary sources to create and discuss thesis arguments that are supported by evidence, and that critically interpret the past and present.


Activity Percentage
Attendance, In-class Activities, Blog Discussions, and Participation 20%
Paper 1 (draft and revised version) 20%
Paper 2 20%
Final Paper (draft and revised version) 20%
Digital Communication Project 20%

Policies & Meeting Format

  • Sessions will combine lecture, discussion, and group analysis of written and audiovisual materials.
  • This is a writing and oral communication intensive class (CI-H). It will include writing assignments and the creation of digital communication tools such as blog posts, podcasts, and infographics.
  • Attendance and active participation are required. Participation grade includes reading assigned materials and critically engaging with course material. Participation in blog discussions are part of your final participation grade.
  • Laptops are allowed but for only classroom purposes.