Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 10:30 AM
"WATER IS FOR FIGHTING OVER": WATER AND THE CALIFORNIA DELTA AS A THEME FOR A CAPSTONE SEMINAR
Water resources have been the focus of controversy throughout California’s history. The uneven distribution of water relative to population and economic development has led to perpetual conflict between those with the water and those with the economic power. Much has been written about the events surrounding the diversion of the Owen’s River to provide agricultural irrigation water and later drinking water for the City of Los Angeles. More recently, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, or California Delta, is the focus of conflicting water usage and environmental concerns. University of the Pacific in Stockton, California is located at the eastern margin of the California Delta. The location of the campus makes the controversy an excellent theme for the senior capstone course for the environmental science major because it is both local (place-based) and current. The course is designed to integrate all aspects of the students’ curriculum: natural science, social science, and humanities. It covers multiple dimensions of the controversy beginning with the history of the California Delta (natural and human) and culminating with current events (Peripheral Canal/Tunnel). Learning is facilitated through readings, field trips, guest speakers, student-led discussions/debates and research projects. Topics include: water law, fish migration, levee construction, habitat reconstruction, water use and conservation, agriculture, economic impacts of water deliveries, etc. Feedback from students confirms that the topic is relevant and effective in helping them integrate and apply knowledge gained in other courses. The approach used to engage students in the study of this particular water controversy can be adapted for use by educators in other regions. This pedagogical approach can also be used for other multi-dimensional environmental issues.