MEM Specialization in Water Resource Science and Management

Purpose and Scope

More than one quadrillion gallons of the world’s freshwater is appropriated each year to support agriculture, industry, mining, and urbanization. These thirsty culprits, together with climate change, have stressed the global supply and quality of water, imperiling human health and the functioning of freshwater and coastal ecosystems alike. Mitigating water scarcity and pollution relies on management approaches and policy levers that reflect the most recent advances in scientific understanding and on skill in forecasting ecosystem responses and socio-economic consequences of potential management and policy actions. The purpose of this specialization is to build student expertise in the science, policy, and management of water resources in preparation for careers that call for solutions to challenges posed by the world’s emerging and longstanding water-related issues. Students seeking employment within federal and state environmental agencies (e.g., USGS, USEPA, DEP), environmental non-governmental organizations (e.g., WRI, Nature Conservancy), international development agencies, local and interstate watershed commissions, industry, and environmental consulting firms should consider this specialization.


These courses provide a common foundation of concepts, principles, and tools that all MEM students should learn in order to succeed as professional environmental managers.   Foundations courses are not required; however, most offerings of the Specialization Core have one or more Foundation courses as pre-requisites.  The Foundations courses are  
Specialization Core
These courses provide fundamental coverage of natural phenomena and anthropogenic activities that govern the quality, availability, and distribution of the world’s freshwater, and they introduce approaches for managing complex water-resource issues.  Students are required to complete at least three of the following offerings:
Quantitative Analysis and Measurement
At least one course is required in Quantitative Analysis and Measurement. Courses in this group impart skills and knowledge needed by environmental managers to organize, interpret, and present observational data relevant to water-resource problems.    
Specialization Electives
Electives courses provide disciplinary and interdisciplinary treatments on an array of topics relevant to water resources.  The Electives can be chosen to increase both breadth and depth of understanding and should be selected to strengthen student preparation for the Capstone Project.  Enrollment in elective courses is left to the discretion of the student and his or her advisor, but should include at least two courses.  Specialization elective courses offered by F&ES faculty are

Ecology of Aquatic Environments  
Hydrologic and Watershed Sciences  
Water Quality
Management and Policy
Students may also conduct a three-credit Independent Study in partial fulfillment of the elective requirement.   The purpose of an Independent Study is to allow students to explore, under the guidance of a faculty advisor, topics not covered in regularly offered courses.

Courses offered though other Yale schools and departments may be used to satisfy elective requirements subject to approval by the faculty of the specialization.

Capstone Project
The Capstone Project involves the directed study, analysis, and development of potential solutions to a particular water-resource problem.  The Capstone Project, a requirement of the Specialization, is undertaken in the third or fourth semester.  It relies on the integration of knowledge, methodological approaches, and interpretive techniques gained from courses taken during the earlier stages of the MEM.  

The topic of a Capstone Project is typically chosen by the student, with input from the student’s advisor. A Capstone Project may involve, for example, providing a water-management plan or water-resource assessment to a client, such as a government agency, company, not-for-profit, or individual.  Alternatively, the Capstone could involve water-related research that culminates with a paper suitable for publication in a scientific or trade journal.
All Capstone Projects have at least three deliverables:  (i) a brief project proposal submitted by the third week of the semester; (ii) a mid-semester progress report; and (iii) a final written report.   An extended abstract describing the project will be published on the School’s new Student Research Database.   

Faculty Coordinator: Jim Saiers

Specialization Faculty: Shimon Anisfeld, Gaboury Benoit, Mary-Beth Decker, Brad Gentry, Pete Raymond, Dave Skelly, Julie Zimmerman 


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