water-rightsFour professors seek applications from graduate students in all departments and schools to participate in an interdisciplinary research seminar on “The Human Right to Water.”

The seminar will be led by faculty from the Department of Political Science, the Department of City and Regional Planning, the Energy and Resources Group, and the School of Public Health. It is intended for graduate students with an interest in water management who would like to explore this issue in a human rights framework. It is also open to graduate students with an interest in human rights who would like to explore how social and economic rights are implemented or how the human rights framework applies to “collective” goods such as water.

The seminar will consider developments in California and countries that formally recognize the human right to water (which includes South Africa, Bolivia, Cambodia, Colombia, Nigeria, Panama, and Tunisia) with a particular focus on the practical meaning of, and challenges of implementing, the human right to water.

Topics for discussion will include obstacles to the justiciablity of the human right to water, whether the human rights approach to water managements leads to a more equitable distribution of water, especially with respect to gender, whether it facilitates political support for infrastructure investments in poor regions of a country, and the compatibility of human rights and market-based mechanisms for water management such as trading water rights.

Structure of the Seminar and Final Paper: The seminar will meet as a group for two hours each week for the first four weeks to discuss common readings, to develop a common research framework and to identify specific research topics for seminar participants. Students will work in small groups for the next six weeks, under the supervision of one of the seminar’s faculty. The seminar will then meet as a group for the remaining four weeks of the semester. All student will be expected to make a short presentation to the seminar during these final weeks and to submit a 25-page paper at the end of the semester. The papers will be compiled into a white paper on the human right to water that will be posted for public comment on several Berkeley websites. This is a 3 credit course.

Meeting Time/Location: The seminar will meet for the first and last months at a time agreed upon by seminar participants. The first meeting will take place on Tuesday, September 2 at 5 pm in Barrows Hall.

Registration: Students should send a short (2 paragraphs) statement of interest to Professor Helene Silverberg no later than August 20. If accepted, students should then register for independent study credits and obtain a CCN from the seminar faculty with whom they will work during the semester.

For further information, contact Professor Helene Silverberg, Department of Political Science; Professor Charisma Acey, Department of City and Regional Planning; Professor Isha Ray, Energy and Resources Group, or Professor Charlotte Smith, School of Public Health.