The Story of Jane and John: an Illustration of how the Program Produces Water & Diplomacy Professionals
Jane and John enter the IGERT program and begin learning cross-disciplinary communication skills through the Intellectual Outward Bound program. In addition to their disciplinary courses, John takes IGERT-C1 while Jane takes IGERT-C2 during their first semester to start developing interdisciplinary understanding of water issues (4.1.1). During the second semester both take IGERT-C3, which builds on and synthesizes contents from the first two courses. Concurrently, the IGERT colloquium (4.1.2) through critical examination of real world water issues provides the opportunity to learn the processes needed to formulate and frame independent research questions.
Real World Experiences
John initially speaks with faculty from political science, diplomacy, and economics and begins framing and formulating research questions around the impact of interstate governance to resolve water conflicts in the ACF basin. Jane starts exploring an optimal water allocation model by discussing with faculty from hydrologic sciences, biology, and systems. Through their active participation in IGERT colloquium, John and Jane gradually starts developing an appreciation that interstate governance and an optimal water allocation model among competing needs for the ACF basin cannot be solved independently without input from relevant stakeholders and a nuanced understanding of the multifaceted nature of the conflict. Both decide to work with our external partners from USGS and SFWMD to get a deeper understanding for real world complexities of the ACF basin.
While we expect PhD dissertation questions to emerge from active deliberations of the students, faculty, and external partners, here are a few example research questions John and Jane are likely to explore within the context of the ACF and the Ganges water issues: What roles can a third party (e.g., neutral mediator or an international institution like World Bank) play in resolving transboundary water conflicts in the Ganges? How can emerging technologies such as satellite remote sensing contribute to the resolution of water conflicts? Can satellite measured global or regional rainfall products and stream flow or groundwater movement patterns overcome data exchange or reliability/credibility issues between upstream and downstream neighbors? Why did joint fact finding fail in helping stakeholders reaching an agreement for the ACF water disputes? How did the lack of effective inter-state governance shape the evolution of the ACF dispute? These questions will be refined through real-world field work and cross-disciplinary interactions.
Jane and John come back from working in a real-world setting with a nuanced understanding of water issues and write journal papers, present their findings at national and international meetings, help to refine IGERT courses and colloquium content for the next cohort of IGERT students and complete their PhD dissertations. Jane and John graduate from their respective departments with the insight and expertise to apply their skills to real world problems by formulating and framing questions using multiple perspectives.
Jane finds engineering solutions to regional water problems that are acceptable to the infrastructure and stakeholders at each affected local level within the region. John chooses to work as a senior advisor within the federal government and communicates with the scientists and engineers who consult top officials on regional water needs and infrastructure, water users, and policy makers, so that water management decisions and resource development are founded upon strong science and the interests of relevant stakeholders.