The Global Problem-Solving Consortium offered its first intensive summer workshop, on Water Management for Environmental Sustainability, July 1-12, 2013 at George Mason University. The GPS Consortium, formed in 2012, is a unique group of global universities, representing almost every continent, that has pledged to work together to create academic focused on presenting regional approaches and solutions to pressing global issues.
The first summer workshop explored water scarcity around the world and examined the issues from a local, national and international perspective. Thanks to the generosity of the E4 Foundation, One student from each of the Global Consortium partner universities received a Sustainability Fellowship to participate in the program, and they were joined by a group of Mason students taking the class for credit. The Sustainability Fellows are all accomplished upper-level students chosen for their demonstrated leadership in environmental science or sustainability studies.
The workshop participants took several field trips to explore water management in the Potomac River watershed, and met both formally and informally with a variety of experts in the field of water management and environmental sustainability (see list at end). Highlights included a trip to the Smithsonian Mason Conservation Center, a lunch discussion with Mason’s Provost Peter Stearns on the subject of the universal human right to clean water, and a live video session with a faculty member from the Higher School of Economics on Russia’s water challenges. The students also worked in groups on case studies, gleaned from the Washington DC metropolitan regional as well as from select international sites associated with the Global Problem-Solving consortium universities.
The students also viewed a MOOC format course on Confronting Global Challenges, focusing on four global problems: environmental politics, conflict resolution, global obesity, and human rights. A second summer program is already being planned for summer 2014, hosted by the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. This MOOC will also be shared with faculty among the consortium partners to solicit their content on the same problems in other world regions, and to create a true global course and dialogue.