The Myra Kraft Open Classroom

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Water: Challenges of Extremes

Wednesday Evenings, 6:00pm to 8:00pm
January 8th through April 13th
Spring Semester 2014
West Village F, Room 20

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Each semester we select one graduate-level seminar and open it up to the entire campus and public-at-large to attend for free. Each week we feature prominent guest lecturers with real-world expertise and experience.This semester’s instructors are:

Brian Helmuth, PhD, Professor, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, and Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences

Joan Fitzgerald, PhD Professor and Interim Dean, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs

Auroop Ganguly, PhD Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Lee Breckenridge, JD, Professor of Law, School of Law

David Sittenfeld, MS, Museum of Science Boston and School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs


Challenges centered on water form the nexus of many, and arguably most, environmental issues facing society today. Earth is a water planet, yet less than 0.1% of the planet’s water is available as usable, clean freshwater. Living organisms- including humans- require access to water free of contaminants, and we rely on water for a wide array of other applications.

This course will focus on diverse aspects surrounding water: the many ways in which water is used, for example agriculture and energy; societal implications of limited access to water and conversely, the challenge of too much water; and how these challenges are affected by global climate change.This course includes a classroom component for registered students that will focus on thoughtful discussion of literature centered on this topic. The open classroom portion of the course will feature lectures and guided discussions from internationally recognized experts from academia, government and industry. Students registered for the course will be provided with a set of guided readings to complement the lectures, and will be asked to delve further into a topic of their choice. Examples of topics to be covered include storms and hazards, challenges of water scarcity, sea level rise and climate change, demands of agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, and water and energy.

Non-credit participation is free and open to the public. After registering for the semester, you may attend whichever sessions you are interested in. Registering helps us manage expectations about attendance. In addition, being on the class roster allows you to receive timely information through class announcements.

Northeastern undergraduate and graduate students interested in taking the course for credit should use the following Course Registration Numbers to enroll: Undergraduate 36338 & 36339 | Graduate student 31580 & 32771. Note that for enrolled students there is a required additional seminar from 4:35 to 5:40 on Wednesdays.

Register here

Help Us Spread the Word

Although we have promoted the Open Classroom through various outlets, most people have learned about it through word-of-mouth. Here are a few ways that you can help to spread the word to your friends, family and colleagues.

Tell people about it.

The oldest form of “social media”: talking to other people. Tell your friends, colleagues, and family members about it.

Download our flyer and pass it along: Coming Soon

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