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Do you want your class to get involved with this project? 

Do you want to create a Water Stories website for your own state? 

Email Melissa Haeffner at for syllabi and Teaching Notes.


Here is some information about how the course works.

Course Title: Human/Nature Winter 2018

Human/Nature is part of the Portland State University Freshman Inquiry (FRINQ) curriculum. Freshman Inquiry (FRINQ) forms the foundation for the University Studies program. This year-long sequence of courses introduces the student to Portland State's general education goals and to the opportunities available in university life.


Scope of Project:

During the class, the students curate a website synthesizing water issues impacting human and non-human actors in Oregon, called The website is intended to engage students in the multiple identities around water in Oregon as they practice basic writing and research skills. Data (newspaper articles) are collected, summarized, and uploaded to an interactive map.


The course content is built around two main goals: 1) A methodological approach to identify multiple water identities in Oregon, and 2) The beginnings of a water justice framework to challenge existing assumptions about water access and decision-making.


Methodologically, the course walks students through the fundamentals of archival data collection in preparation for thematic analysis.

Because students come to this class with a broad spectrum of backgrounds, language abilities, and varying degrees of college preparation, the website provides the infrastructure for the students to engage at their own level. Meanwhile, teamwork provides an opportunity for students for peer review and test ideas before submission. Students must work together to complete the project. Throughout the term, they are encouraged to problem solve and work creatively.


Course lectures walk students through a series of water justice cases to identify recurring constructs and variables that may contribute to injustice. Students will diagram in class who the main actors are and how they are connected. Focusing on cases studies in the United States within the last five years presents students from explaining water justice away as a problem that happened “long ago” or “far away.” Cases are paired with findings from the Oregon newspaper articles to make the link between characteristics of water justice in general and characteristics around water issues in Oregon.








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