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Governance of Water and Toxicity



This course is focused on the sustainable governance of our global water resources. Sustainable
management of global water resources is one of the most pressing environmental challenges of the
21st century. The basics of the course will link our current understanding on key aquatic ecological
processes, and how these processes are currently affected by anthropogenic contaminants, with a
focus on aquatic toxicity. At the same time, it will explicitly situate the basic analysis within an
governance context. The course will demonstrate how scientific analyses are used in political debates
and policy making and how policy framing and political choices constrain and enable research in the
domain of water and toxicity.
During the course we will study a wide range of different subjects that are needed to analyse water
and toxicity problems and make policy decisions to address these issues in the context of multiple
policy frames. The subject analysis ranges from ecological topics (e.g., resilience theory, alternative
stable states, nutrient cycling, hydrological cycle) to stressors as studied within ecotoxicology (e.g.,
various contaminations’ fate and accumulation, effects as well as different ways of determining the
health of an organism or ecosystem. The governance subjects range from the introduction of the
legal frameworks (e.g. water framework directive, nitrates directive and waste water directive), to
the framing analysis of policy debates (e.g. policy discourses in media and political arenas, boundary
work, rhetoric, policy integration and policy images) and stakeholders perspectives (actors

Learning goals

  • Can understand basic ecological concepts on the functioning of aquatic ecological systems and discuss how impacts should be assessed related to the key anthropogenic treats to these systems.

  • Can identify different methodologies to study impacts on aquatic systems and apply these techniques to study impacts in different scenarios

  • Can identify the basic legal frameworks that govern water resource management

  • Can understand and discuss trade-offs related to decision making on the various functions that are expected from aquatic ecosystems

  • Are able to compose and apply a framing analysis of policy documents, media, and political statements

Teaching methods / mode of instruction

Field components (excursion, field site to perform research on)
Written assignments

Course materials / reading list

Course materials will consist of amongst all academic journal article, regulatory guidance documents
and parts of reports. The readings will be integrated into the lectures or will be used within the
assignments done by the students. The link to articles will be provides. Students also need to find
literature via Web of Knowledge themselves.