Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Teaching Outcomes on the Water Crisis in Flint, Michigan

Flint, Michigan. Click for photo credit.
I am using the Flint, Michigan water crisis to teach some basic concepts on environmental management. However, the case study allows broader exploration on topics important to the whole field of sustainability. Many of the issues raise questions of geography, history, industrialization, environmental justice, and environmental science.

Here is a list of suggested outcome questions for anyone focusing on the topic.

Many great teachers and thinkers read this blog. Do you have any other suggestions for outcomes questions that would be useful in teaching the issues raised in the Flint, Michigan case study?

1. The geographic setting.
a. What is the sunbelt/rustbelt demographic transition in the U.S. and what caused it?
b. How has the population of Flint changed in the last few decades?
c. What is/was the economic base of Flint? What is the age of the housing stock?
d. What is/was the ethnic and economic status of the population of Flint?

2. The political setting.
a. Why was an emergency manager put into place in Flint?
b. What is the recent history of public water management in Flint?

3. Water quality.
a. What group(s) sets/set water quality standards for public drinking water?
b. What group(s) is/are responsible for ensuring water quality?
c. How do local utilities treat water to ensure water quality?
d. What are typical water quality parameters?

4. Water quality problems in Flint.
a. What events caused concern over Flint's water quality?
b. What evidence emerged initially that caused concern about Flint's water?
c. What was the government's first response to the water quality concerns?
d. What events initiated a broader, more comprehensive response to the water quality concerns?

5. Lead poisoning.
a. What is lead and why is it used commonly in plumbing?
b. How can lead be released in drinking water?
c. What are the health impacts of lead poisoning?

6. Environmental justice.
a. What is environmental justice and environmental racism?
b. What evidence is there that the water crisis in Flint is an environmental justice issue?
c. How have different groups and individuals reacted to the Flint water crisis?

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