Miami Law Offers a New Opportunity to Study Water Resources


To enhance students' understanding of the challenges related to water resources and their effective management, Miami Law is offering a five-week graduate summer course taught in Vietnam and China starting this week. The eight participating University of Miami students are currently pursuing programs in the School of Law, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS), and the College of Engineering. This international summer course will be led by Miami Law Adjunct Professor Daniel Suman.

"All countries face similar challenges of providing safe drinking water, treating sewage, and maintaining healthy waterways," said Suman, who is also a Professor of Marine Affairs and Policy at RSMAS. "Our course will examine these global issues in the context of two rapidly developing nations that are economic superpowers or "Asian tigers.' Their rapid growth illustrates the tensions between economic development and public and environmental health. At the same time, they offer us examples of innovative solutions to water resource challenges faced by many countries throughout the world."

During the first week in each country, students will participate in seminars at the Hanoi University of Mining and Geology in Vietnam and Yunnan University in China. Taught by Professor Suman, Miami Law's Dean Ileana Porras, and professors and specialists from Vietnam and China, the course will provide students with a variety of perspectives to enhance their understanding of water resource management. Additionally, Vietnamese and Chinese students will also attend the seminars, promoting intercultural exchange and friendships.

The group will learn more about practical water resource management during numerous field trips. Although classroom education is essential, this on-site experience will be extremely helpful to understand this subject matter. By traveling to these locations and speaking with managers, students will more fully comprehend how water resources are managed in these countries.

In Vietnam the class will visit Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and also spend three days in Sapa, a minority region in northwest Vietnam where farmers practice traditional terrace agriculture. In Yunnan Province, China, the group will travel to Dali, Lijiang, and Zhongdian, all traditional towns facing unique water issues. The course will close with a three-day cruise down the Yangtze River ending at China's new Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest capacity hydroelectric power station.

"I hope students develop the sensibility about what it means to have a complex state," said Dean Porras. "There are many levels encompassing water management, from the national government to the provinces to the local village level. Moreover, those systems in a rural region are different than those in place in an urban area. Therefore, each case has its own regulations, traditions of water use, and cultural patterns of use."

This course will also allow students to compare the regulatory tools used in other countries to those used in the United States. Like the U.S., China has a variety of social, political, and economic factors that impact the regulation of water use. Through this unique study abroad experience, students will learn how to consider and respond to all the diverse needs of stakeholders of water resources.