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Water Literacy

There is increasing need to address the diverse risks facing our public water supply and natural water resources on which we depend. These risks include, but are not limited to, climate change, emerging contaminants, and aging infrastructure. In order for the public and elected representatives to adequately address these challenges, it is necessary that they possess scientific understanding of natural and engineered water systems and their interconnections, as well as understanding of the social, political, and economic context in which water systems are situated. Current K-12 science standards mention water primarily in learning about the water cycle and do not consistently carry ideas about water through grade levels or to subject areas beyond Earth science. There is an opportunity to become more interdisciplinary in our approach to teaching concepts relevant to water resource management.

Outreach Goals

  • Engage with Cornell students, the City of Ithaca, and statewide stakeholders to increase water literacy on campus and in NY communities.
  • Partner with State and Federal agencies to better their water literacy and communication efforts in geographies on interest (Hudson River Estuary and the Great Lakes).
  • Develop water literacy curriculum, events and programs for K-12 students.

Diversity Equity Inclusion/ Environmental Justice

  • Better understand how issues of DEI/EJ impact water literacy.
  • Document the barriers EJ communities face in being actively involved in water management programs and activities at the local level.
  • Understand, highlight and learn from marginalized communities’ historic and on-going relationships with water and tailor sensitive outreach initiatives aimed at inculcating long-term environmental stewardship.

    Select Projects