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Timothy Dekker to speak at Dordt on global water challenges, launching campus-wide project

September 12, 2012

Did you know that 884 million people worldwide do not have access to a safe and sustainable water supply? This is a complex, international problem without a simple, technical answer, and a solution requires expertise and involvement from many disciplines.

On Monday, September 17, environmental and water resources engineer Timothy Dekker, a lecturer at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, will present a 7 p.m. lecture in the B.J. Haan Auditorium. Dekker will give an overview of the challenges related to providing just, equitable, and sustainable distribution of clean water for drinking and basic sanitation.

“Access to water is an increasingly global problem, and one that is closely tied to worldwide changes in population, urbanization, energy production and consumption, corporate globalization, and international politics,” said Dekker. “Solutions are elusive and complex.” Dekker highlighted the importance of examining water safety and sustainability from “technical, sociological, economic, legal, and political” perspectives.

In his presentation, Dekker will challenge students to add their voices to the conversation and to get involved in searching for solutions. His presentation will kick off a semester-long, interdisciplinary research project at Dordt College involving around 500 students, more than a quarter of the campus, from 25 classes. During the semester, students from different classes will work collaboratively across disciplines to foster innovative thinking and potentially produce some unique solutions.

Paul Fessler, history professor and one of the core group of Dordt faculty working on this collaborative project, knows multidisciplinary cooperation is necessary. “Not having this broader context as part of the solution is a reason why some of these challenges are not being solved,” said Fessler. “There needs to be a deep discussion that gets to the core of the issues. A comprehensive Christian college can be a strong voice in issuing a broader call to action,” said Fessler.

Dekker has a wealth of experience working with water issues, having led field efforts and water resources studies on rivers, lakes, and estuaries throughout North America. “Not only is Tim an expert with a voice in the arena, he approaches his work with a Christian perspective,” said Fessler. Dekker has also served as an adjunct professor of environmental engineering at the University of Michigan.

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