What is the Role of Water in American Society and Culture?


Senior undergraduates in the Lyman Briggs College at Michigan State University have designed these pages to analyze the importance of water and examined how scientists, government officials, and members in the public interact with and value water resources. From a day at the beach to the water in their coffee, these students have used interdisciplinary readings, films, and museum objects to critically examine how water is embedded in everyday life and historical events. They have focused on ways that people think about water, including as drinking water, a recreational landscape, a sanitation mechanism, segregated space, an economic resource, a flood, a drought, wilderness, and a site tied to cultural identity. This project centers on questions of access and communicating with the public in a way that bridges science, humanities, and the digital.

Please choose from the paths [on the left], explore tags, or leave a comment. The Course Syllabus outlines the interdisciplinary course readings and class structure. In the tab, titled Water Crisis Research students to examine the details and historical roots of contemporary water crises. In the Water Testing Project, students have evaluated current water testing kits and brainstormed ideas for future water testing techniques available to the public and citizen science projects. The class worked with Dr. Aleia Brown at the MSU Museum to examine cultural objects connected with water at the MSU Museum. Using the knowledge that they gained from interdisciplinary readings and class discussion, they analyzed Water on Film in blog posts. Student Portfolios are designed to showcase their contributions to this project and highlight their work.

We invite you to explore this project, to post comments, and make suggestions for additional content.