Loyola University Chicago

Institute of Environmental Sustainability


ENVS 350A: STEP Water


STEP: Water engages students with learning opportunities presented by a multidisciplinary group of faculty and on-the-ground experts. Students study historical and current water resource issues at multiple scales. They design and implement projects on campus or in the community to help solve water-related challenges.

Spring 2015 STEP: Water Syllabus

Some lecture topics:

  • water sanitation,
  • water economics,
  • issues in the Great Lakes,
  • water policy,
  • public health and water-borne infectious diseases,
  • spiritual implications of water,
  • historical significance of water,
  • water and agriculture,
  • water and ecosystems,
  • sustainable water use, and
  • social justice and water access.


Readings include scientific studies, government reports and book excerpts highlighting historical and contemporary challenges in water resource management.

Examples of labs, field trips and film discussions:

  • mapping water resources using GIS,
  • Chicago Metropolitan Water Reclamation District,
  • Evanston Water Treatment Plant,
  • stream quality assessment with Friends of the Chicago River,
  • Damnation (history of dam building and present day dam removal),
  • Blue Gold (water privatization), and
  • Groundswell Rising (hydraulic fracturing, water impacts, and citizen activism).

Here are some examples of student projects. Students:

  • Developed an Aquaponics system for sustainable fish farming.
  • Piloted a living machine for waste nutrient removal.
  • Studied emerging contaminants in drinking water and aquatic ecosystems.
  • Studied irrigation and rainwater collection.
  • Studied water conservation on campus.
  • Studied stormwater management and sustainable landscaping.

For more information, contact STEP Coordinator Tania Schusler.