WRM-34806 Water, Society & Technology - concepts and debates


Studiepunten 6.00

Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. GJA Veldwisch
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. ir. RA Boelens
dr. ir. GJA Veldwisch
dr. ir. JMC Vos
dr. ir. JD Hoogesteger Van Dijk
dr. ir. JA Bolding
dr. E Shah
Examiner(s)dr. ir. GJA Veldwisch
dr. ir. JMC Vos
dr. ir. JA Bolding
dr. ir. JD Hoogesteger Van Dijk

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

WRM-10306 Irrigation and Water Management.

Continuation courses:

WRM-31306 Political Ecology of Water, WRM-32306 Research Approaches to Land and Water Management, WRM-33806 Gender and Natural Resources Management


The course ‘Water, Society & Technology - concepts and debates’ (previously called ‘Irrigation & Development’) is intended for students planning to do interdisciplinary research on water developments in the broad sense, including socio-political change and the role of water technologies. There is particular attention for irrigation practices. It is a compulsory course for master students following the ‘Water, Society and Technology’ specialization of the International Land and Water Management master program (MIL-B) and provides a basis for MSc thesis research and for the course ‘Political Ecology of Water’, taught in the 4th period. The course serves as an analytical introduction to contemporary water issues and debates, and aims to train students in translating design and management issues into research topics. Interdisciplinary, sociotechnical, approaches for analysing water management practices are presented, in which the technical, organizational and political dimensions are dealt with in an integral way. An important learning aim of the course is that participants develop their own vision on the debates pertaining to Water, Society and Technology, by understanding and engaging with the paradigms underlying these debates. To achieve these aims, special attention is given to developing a crucial academic skill, namely analysing and summarizing scientific texts.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:

- understand the debates on water, society and technology and its relations, with particular attention to irrigation practices; 

- understand the interdisciplinary, sociotechnical, approaches to water, society and technology;

- study and analyse concrete issues and phenomena within the theme of water, society and technology by using sociotechnical approaches;

- develop a vision on water, society and technology, and on the social processes that the use of water and irrigation technologies can cause;

- argue (in writing) his/her own position in each of the water debates discussed in the course;

- analyse and reproduce a scientific argument from a scientific text.


The course consists of lectures, tutorials, self-study, discussion groups and skills training. Particular themes concerning water, society and technology are highlighted in lectures within the context of a larger sociotechnical approach and conceptual framework. Through tutorials the information and concepts presented in the lectures are applied and discussed to facilitate articulation of an opinion on the issues presented during the lecture and to evaluate the use of the concepts and conceptual approaches. Participants will need to spend about 10 hours per week on individual study. This implies that the literature for the next lecture is read on an individual basis. The skills training element of the course focuses on (1) writing a critical summary of two selected texts (one receiving individual feed-back, and the second being assessed for a mark); (2) plenary deconstruction of a scientific text, assessing main argument, subsidiary arguments and presented evidence.


- on basis of two assignments;
- a summary of an academic text (20%);
- a take-home essay assignment (80%);
- both marks must be marked 5.5 in order to pass the course.


The principle reading materials consist of 2 articles/book chapters for each block. Links to digital copies are provided through a digital learning environment. Study and discussion questions as well as copies of the PowerPoint presentations are also provided there.

Verplicht voor: MILInternational Land and Water ManagementMScB: Spec. B - Water, Society and Technology2MO
Keuze voor: MILInternational Land and Water ManagementMScD: Spec. D - Flexible Configurations for Innovative Minds2MO