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Living with Water Scarcity


Admission requirements

English level C1 or greater. No other prerequisites.
This course is an (extracurricular) Honours Class: an honours elective in the Honours College programme. There are limited spots available for non-honours students. Admission will be based on motivation.

Students are required to join at least 3 of the 4 Saturday excursions.


Around the world, more countries and communities face increasing scarcity of clean water, which leads to economic, environmental, social and political dilemmas. In this course, we will explore the definitions of scarcity and shortage, the market and non-market costs of scarcity, and different means of addressing scarcity. We will also discuss how politics, culture and climate disruption interact with existing policies regarding water use. (Note that the Netherlands is often seen as possessing abundant water, but it is subject to both scarcity (droughts) and abundance shocks (floods), so all of these ideas apply here as elsewhere.)

Each of the 6 lectures will focus on 1 or 2 areas that scarcity affects, e.g., agriculture & industry, environment, rich & poor. Each of the 4 excursions outside the classroom will reinforce our class discussions with real-world examples. Students will be expected to participate in class discussions and on-line debates. They will also make a presentation and write a course paper on a water-related topic of their choice.

Course objectives

  • Students will be able to recognize scarcity, explain how behavior and/or policies affects scarcity, and estimate the economic and social damages resulting from scarcity.

  • Students will use interdisciplinary perspectives to explain the various dimensions and impacts of scarcity.


We will meet Wednesdays 18:30-21:00 (10 min break mid-class) from 13.02.19 t/m 20.03.19


Wijnhaven, Campus The Hague

Course load and teaching method

This course is worth 5 EC, which means the total course load equals 140 hours.

  • Seminars: 6 lectures of 2.5 hours: 15 hours

  • Excursion: 4 excursions of 4 hours: 16 hours

  • Literature reading & practical work: 8 hours p/week: 50 hours

  • Assignments & final essay: 60 hours

Attendance at all evening classes and 3 of 4 excursions is required (no excuses except medical emergencies, etc.)

Assessment method

  • 20% Participation assessed continually in-class and on-line

  • 30% (10% each) Three reaction papers to excursions (1000 words)

  • 10% Presentation of paper topic in class

  • 40% Course paper (3,000-5,000 words)

Reading list

Zetland, David (2014). Living with Water Scarcity. Mission Viejo, CA: Aguanomics Press. ISBN: 978-0615932187 (Free PDF download)

4-5 academic papers (tba)


  • Feb 13: Introduction. Political-economy of water

  • Feb 20: Physical water and infrastructure (guest lecture+seminar)

  • Feb 27: Economic water (lecture+seminar)

  • Mar 6: Environmental water and climate (guest lecture+seminar)

  • Mar 13: Social water and culture (guest lecture+seminar)

  • Mar 20: Student paper presentations and wrap up

  • Excursions: 23.02, 02.03, 09.03 and 16.03.

  • Mar 29: Final paper due (via Blackboard)


Enrolling in this course is possible from XXX through the Honours Academy, via this LINK.
Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.