is not just about an international river basin and it’s not just about conflict around a well. There’s a whole spectrum of water conflict that we try to get into,” says Sandy Ruckstuhl, senior social scientist at the Center for Complexity Analysis, LLC. Ruckstuhl also teaches a course on water and conflict
at the George Mason University’s Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution
Many students drawn to her course have backgrounds in human rights and approach the topic from a “right to water” framework. Ruckstuhl’s course is designed to expand their views. “This discussion is much broader than a debate around rights. There are all sorts of dimensions to water conflict, to water management, that have to do with different levels of governance, different physical challenges in dealing with the resource, different cultural contexts—there are all sorts of factors that are at play when we talk about an issue like water conflict and water cooperation,” she said.
Ruckstuhl takes her students on an exhaustive journey through 10 case studies, touching on cross-cutting topics, such as environmental security and climate change, and their impacts across a range of critical regions, from deserts in the Middle East and Darfur to the Altiplano in Bolivia. Ruckstuhl’s students also benefit from guest lectures presented by water practitioners and experts in the field, including ECSP Director Geoff Dabelko, Ambassador John McDonald, and the Henry L. Stimson Center’s David Michel.