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Sharing Scarcity: Water




Admissions requirements

None. Please note that 100-level courses do not mean “less work” but “less preparation” (as in no prerequisite courses needed). This is not a course for students who do not have time to study!


Content: 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. These discussions will be interdisciplinary due to water's complex interaction with many dimensions of life. (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.)

Themes: Political economy, sustainability, institutions, inequality

Course objectives


  • Students will apply interdisciplinary insights to addressing scarcity from cultural, technical, legal, economic and moral perspectives.


  • 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 be able to explain the various dimensions and impacts of scarcity using interdisciplinary perspectives.


Once available, timetables will be published in the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The course is taught through two-hour seminars. Students will be expected to participate in both large and small group discussions; present and defend their ideas within an academic setting; and take part in group projects. The instructor will facilitate and ensure the efficient running of the discussion, but students are responsible for its quality.


Class participation: 15% (continuous weeks 1-7)
Weekly exercises: 10% (weeks 2-6)
Blog post: 10% (due week 4)
Peer reviews: 2x10% (due week 6)
Individual Presentation: 10% (due week 7)
Case study paper: 35% (due reading week)

Please note:

  • In accordance with article 4.8 of the Course and Examination Regulations (OER), within 30 days after the publication of grades, the instructor will provide students the opportunity to inspect their exams/coursework.

  • There is a no re-sit policy at Leiden University College.


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Living with Water Scarcity (2014) by David Zetland plus academic and popular articles


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


David Zetland (
Leiden University College, Room 4.37


NB: Students are advised to choose one of two ``Scarcity” courses in the co-convened GED/EES track. Enrollment priority will go to students who have not taken the other “Scarcity” course.