Water In Our World: UNC Campus Theme 2012 – 2014

Drawing upon internationally recognized expertise, UNC is mobilizing around water during 2012 – 2014 through a new campus-wide academic theme, “Water in Our World.” An outgrowth of the 2011 Academic Plan, the theme launched on March 22, 2012, World Water Day, which is recognized by the United Nations and the global community as a reminder that the world faces a global water, sanitation and hygiene crisis.

Proposed by faculty and units at the forefront of water research such as the Global Research InstituteInstitute for the Environment, the Water Institute and the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, the theme was endorsed by the Faculty Council and aims to energize and guide activity across schools, programs, centers and institutes. A focus includes ensuring water is available to and safe for people around the world.

Steering committee co-chairs are Jamie Bartram, director of the Water Institute and professor in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, and Terry Rhodes, professor of music and senior associate dean of fine arts and humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Water-Related Research

  • Hans Paerl, professor in the Institute of Marine Sciences, will lead a team of researchers funded by the National Science Foundation that are working towards the restoration of ecosystem balance in China’s Lake Taihu.
  • The Water Institute at UNC, with funding from the Conrad H. Hilton Foundation Water Initiative, is developing and implementing a monitoring, evaluation and learning strategy for the foundation and its grantees in Sub-Saharan Africa, Mexico and India.
  • The Renaissance Computing Initiative (RENCI) is the technical lead on a National Science Foundation funded project to build an infrastructure to help hydrologists access water-related research data, models and code that are online, retrieve them to their desktops, and analyze them using shared software and products.
  • Funded by the National Science Foundation, a team from the Institute for the Environment led by Steve Whalen will travel to Russia to collaborate with the Northern Arctic Federal University to study methane releases from permafrost and near coastlines along the White Sea.
  • The Environmental Finance Center of the School of Government is co-leading a network of university environmental finance centers on an EPA-funded project to assist small public water systems across the country.
  • Rachel Noble, professor at the Institute of Marine Sciences and the Gillings School of Global Public Health, designed and patented a rapid DNA-based test which dramatically reduces the time needed to detect E. coli in water samples.

Events and Exhibits:

  • Conferences and symposiums, such as “Water and Wastewater Funding Strategies” workshop by the Environmental Finance Center, and “Global Sustainability Symposium: Water and Energy in the Crosshairs” by the Center for European Studies, Center for Sustainable Enterprise, Global Business Center, Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies and African Studies Center
  • Art and photography exhibits, such as “The Water of Life: Artistic Expressions” at the FedEx Global Education Center and  “Reflections of the Eno” at Wilson Library
  • Interdisciplinary courses, such as “Water In Our World” which examines critical topics on global water, and other courses across campus, including N.C. Estuaries: Environmental Processes and Problems; Chinese Environmental Literature; Water Resource Management and Human Rights; Water and Sanitation Planning and Policy in Developed Countries; and Applied Water Finance
  • A speaker series at the Global Research Institute with experts such as Clarissa Brocklehurst, former chief of UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Section, and lectures across campus, such as Charles Fishman, journalist and author of “The Big Thirst: The Secret Life & Turbulent Future of Water,” and Bob McDonald, CEO of Procter & Gamble, on on P&G’s Global Water Project in Africa, in the Kenan-Flagler Business School Dean’s Speaker Series
  • Special campus tour, “Meeting of the Waters” developed by the UNC Visitors’ Center
  • Community partners, such as the Chapel Hill Philharmonia performing Handel’s Water Music and Claude Debussy’s La Mer