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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Thursday, April 18, 2024

Tufts Institute of the Environment to launch Master of Science in Sustainable Water Management

Linda M. Abriola, Director of Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE), poses for a portrait Jan. 17, 2013. When Abriola began as TIE director last September, it was decided that TIE would manage the relationship between Greentown Labs and Tufts.

Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE) will be launching a new Master of Science in Sustainable Water Management (SWM) this fall, according to TIE Director Dr. Linda Abriola.

According to TIE’s website, students enrolled in this yearlong program can follow one of four program tracks: Water Diplomacy; Water, Food and Energy; Water Infrastructure for Human Development; and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in International Development and Humanitarian Response.

According to Nitsan Shakked, Associate Director of TIE, a certificate program called Water: Systems, Science, & Society (WSSS) had been operating out of TIE in the past.

However, she said that there has been a higher demand for water professionals in the job market as of late.

“In the domain of water education, there are not many academic institutions that educate students in an interdisciplinary holistic way, as the SWM program is designed to do,” Shakked said.

Abriola, who previously served as the Dean of the School of Engineering, stressed the importance of training students to take on new roles in the water field.

“In the environmental arena, we believe that there is a need for leaders who are going to be able to lead projects, who will take charge of trying to blend the [natural] science and the social science and the engineering together … We think that this leadership is so important because of the problems that society faces now with regards to water shortages, climate change, [and] urban development,” Abriola said.

Furthermore, Abriola and Shakked emphasized the interdisciplinary nature of the SWM program, which incorporates professors and faculty from across Tufts schools, including the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, which is hosting the application process, and the School of Engineering.

“By drawing on the intellectual capital of its faculty and years of experience with the WSSS Certificate program as well as the Water Diplomacy PhD Program, Tufts has a stronger leading position in the field of water,” Shakked said.

According to Abriola, four new classes have been developed for the SWM program, which will be team-taught by faculty across disciplines and schools. These courses will cover topics such as water science and systems, water economics, water policy and research methods, she said.

The SWM program will also incorporate a summer practicum for students to gain work experience in the area they are interested in, such as working with the government or an non-governmental organization, according to Abriola.

Shakked said that she hopes the program will teach students new ways to solve problems related to water fields.

“I hope that what [students] gain from it is an integrated understanding of how water problems should be solved from a scientific point of view … as well as with the social sciences lens, in order to make it long lasting and sustainable,” she said.

Lily Hartzell, a senior studying international relations and environmental studies, expressed enthusiasm about the new Master of Science in SWM.

"I think it's a really interesting and important program. We've talked a lot in the environmental studies major at Tufts about how important and pressing water is right now, particularly transboundary water issues ... Those are important things to be able to resolve, especially as climate change makes water supplies less and less reliable. I think having a master's program like that at Tufts is a great idea," she said.

Shakked added that few programs like this one exist.

“This is a very unique program. We are lucky to be at Tufts, where there is so much knowledge and experience in the field of water, to develop the SWM programs,” she said.

Abriola echoed Shakked's enthusiasm for the SWM program.

“I’m really personally excited about this because it’s something that I wanted to do as a dean … to be able to develop a program that will allow participation from faculty from so many of Tufts’ schools, I think, is a real strength, and I’m really excited about that. I think it’s a great model for education going forward,” she said.

According to Shakked, an information session will take place at TIE's office in Miller Hall to present the program and answer questions for interested students on Wednesday, Feb. 21, from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. The second application deadline for the Master of Science in SWM is April 1.