Modern Languages Department - Environmental Science, Policy & Engineering Program


MLT209 - ENS222

Class presentations and course materials will be posted after coverage in class

Professor Ghaly's Class Presentations Professor Ferry's Class Presentations
Introduction Introduction
Background on Dams Science, Nature & Humans
Technical & Engineering Modern Development
Environmental Issues Political Legacies
Social & Societal Issues Who Benefits?
Flood Control & Resettlement Protest
Project Economics Resettlement
Hydropower Finance
Navigating Obstructed Waterways  

 For readings and assignments only, nexus.union.edu. Readings also available on reserve and e-reserve in the library.

All videos, except “Still Life” are available in DVD or VHS format on reserve in the library.

Course reserve materials are listed under Ferry (and cross referenced under Ghaly)

Student Projects
1 A "damming" future?: an analysis of one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Itaipu Dam in Brazil and Paraguay. As the second largest dam in the world, following the Three Gorges Dam, it produces approximately 80% and 25% of Paraguay's and Brazil's electricity, respectively. Despite this obvious benefit, the displacement of families and destruction of rainforests makes this a controversial undertaking. I will initially focus on the environmental and economic costs and benefits produced by the Itaipu Dam and hope to incorporate other factors into my final paper.
2 Powering the Future: The Glen Canyon Dam in Lake Powell, AZ

For my project I am interested in looking mainly at how some of the dam’s functions have impacted the surrounding community both before and after construction. The functions as a source for hydroelectric power and storage of water supply will be main focus points. I am interested in the financial, environmental, political and social aspects that went into building the dam and if any issues regarding those aspects remain today.

3 America's Dam The Hoover Dam, originally know as the Boulder Dam, was created in the early 1930s during the Great Depression. Given the devastating economic conditions of the time, this massive feat was revolutionary at the time and still today remains one of the true wonders of the world.
4 A Dam Disaster I will research the Oroville Dam in California. Constructed in 1968, the Oroville Dam has been an essential part of the California Water Project. At 770 feet tall, the Oroville dam is the tallest dam in the United States, however its recent existence has been frought with controversy. A 2013 crack in the Oroville Dam lead to a 2017 spillway failure that resulted in the evacuation of over 200,000 Californians. The repair costs are expected to breach the $400 million mark.
5 Dams and Displacement: Life Changing Modernization at the Site of the Kariba Dam

In my final project, I hope to study Kariba Dam on the Zambezi River between Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi which serves as an example of the risks countries are willing to take in order to modernize. In the specific instance of the Kariba Dam, thousands of people and animals were displaced by the dam. However, in the face of financial setback, unfavorable dispersion of its animals and people, physical engineering difficulties, and cultural/ historical issues, the Federation decided that the dam's economic advantages supported the build. I would like to analyze why the Federation chose to build the dam, and decide and discuss whether or not I believe the build was the best idea.

6 Grand Coulee Dam: Prosperity or Damnation to the Northwest? The Grand Coulee Dam is the largest hydropower producer in the US and is made of enough concrete to build a highway from Miami to Seattle. Are the environmental and cultural consequences outweighed by the economic prosperity and engineering might?
7 Montana's Four Mile Dam: An Analysis of the Largest Hydraulically Filled Dam in the World

A product of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, The Fort Peck Dam sits as the tallest of the six major dams on the Missouri River and is credited to be the largest hydraulically filled dam in the world. The dam was completed with funds from the Public Works Administration to rejuvenate the depressed US economy, posing questions regarding the need for a dam on this site. This study will be focused originally on the actual need for the dam, without considering the need for a boost in the depression era employment rate. Once the issue on the original necessity of the dam has been covered, I will analyze both the positive and negative impacts that the dam has had on the environment, economy, and the standard of living in the areas directly affected by the dam.

8 Chixoy: The Grave on the Rio Negro

For my project, I will research the Chixoy Dam in San Cristobal Verapaz, Guatemala. Despite generating 15% of the country's power, this dam's construction led to the forced relocation and massacre of thousands of indigenous peoples. I am interested in why the dam was first constructed and how such a disastrous relocation took place.

9 Upstate, Downstate: An Analysis of the Blenheim-Gilboa Dam

The Blenheim-Gilboa Dam, built in Schoharie County by the New York State Power Authority, provides New York City with hydroelectric power and water. Do the benefits outweigh the risks to the local population and the effects on the environment?

10 Inga 3: Africa’s solution to energy poverty?

The Inga 3 Dam is the first phase of the Grand Inga Project on the Congo River. Currently the world’s largest proposed hydropower scheme, the Inga Dam has the potential to generate nearly twice as much as the Three Gorges Dam and meet the electricity needs of the whole Southern Africa region. Such a high energy output can provide significant industrial development to the struggling Democratic Republic of Congo, but at the price of many environmental, economical, and social consequences.

11 Displacement in South Africa: The Repercussions of the LHWP

I would like to focus on the social and economic repercussions of the construction of the Lesotho Highland Water Project (LHWP) in South Africa. The displacement of people in the low-income rural area surrounding the dam, in which the people mainly survive and earn income from agriculture, has resulted in a loss of income-generating potential in the area. I hope to explore other aspects of the project and expand on the decision of whether the dam should have been built or not.

12 The "Power of a Dam": Aswan Dam

Aswan Dam,built on River Nile located in Egypt, is one of the largest dams in the world. I would like to explore the political, economic and social influence of the dam, as well as investigate the role of Russia, US and Britain or any other country in spearheading the construction of the dam, through competing to finance the project and the incentive behind it?

13 llisu dam of Turkey Turkey, and other middle eastern countries have received consistent criticism in recent times for their dam construction projects. This specific project has experienced a lot of turmoil, as construction has stopped and resumed multiple times, with different factors affecting the ultimate continuation. Either way, the llisu dam has experienced negative feedback for its affect on the environment, cultural heritage sites, and other communities surrounding the general area. My paper would be constructed around these specific effects, as well conduct an analysis regarding the general interplay between the government, and other large agencies supporting this dam, and the local communities.
14 India's Sardar Sarovar Dam The Sardar Sarovar Dam was implemented to supply water irrigation and drinking water. However, the dam angered many people. The controversy the Dam caused, forced the World Bank to discontinue funding on the Dam. I plan to explore whether or not the Dam's ability to supply water irrigation and drinking is worth the controversy it created.
15 Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam: A Pathway for Ethiopian Success or African Conflict?

I am going to explore the potential positive and negative impacts of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project. With the potential to increase the current Ethiopian electric generation capacity by four times, the benefits could revolutionize the country's political, economic and social dynamics. However, this project has the potential to escalate political tensions with its neighbors, mainly Egypt and Sudan, due to the disruption of the downstream flow of the Blue Nile River. Will this project revolutionize Ethiopia or create a continental water crisis?

16 Altinkaya Baraji, Turkey I am going to write my term paper about the structural features, the economic effects and benefits, and the social aspects of Altinkaya Baraji in Samsun, Turkey.
17 Money grows in water not on trees

I want to study the Longtan Dam in China: I would like to focus on the economic implications of the dam and in turn how these sacrifices for the economy effect the environment and the culture of the micro region in which it is located.

18 The Yacyretá Dam: A Step Forward or Two Steps Back

For my paper I am going to be investigating the Yacyretá Dam which sits on the border of Argentina and Paraguay. This dam was a very controversial dam due to the cost, environmental factors, international relations, corruption, and poor execution. I am going to be taking a comprehensive view of all of these factors and determining if the Yacyretá Dam should have been constructed or not asking the essential question to dam or not to dam.

19 No Way Out

I will research the Belo Monte Dam in Brazil. The Belo Monte Dam was first proposed in 1975, and is currently under construction. Environmentalists are concerned with the dam due to the deforestation issues. Others are opposed because of the displacement of thousands of people. I will look into the economic, social, cultural, and environmental aspects of the dam to decide whether the Dam is a good idea or not.

20 Xiluodu Dam: The award winning dam

Completed in 2013, Xilundu dam, a part of the Xiluodu Hydropower Station on Jinsha River in China, became the the world's third biggest hydroelectric power plant. However, the project started back in 1985. What was the obstacles for building such a large hydropower plant? What challenge and hardness had the Chinese engineers and the TGP Corporation overcame over the years to accomplish such an enormous project. What are environmental, political, and economical effects of the power plant and what have the plant and the government had done for dealing with this effects?

21 A Protested Dam: The Virdnejávr Dam in Norway I will research the Virdnejávrin dam on the Alta river in Norway. This dam has faced a lot of controversy and there were large protests against it in the late 70's and early 80's. The construction of the dam and power plant would create a artificial lake that would flood the Sami village and therefore displace many people. Two major protests occurred: protestors sat at the construction site and blocked the machines and later on there was a hunger strike outside of the Norwegian parliament. In my paper I will explore all of the positive and negative effects in order to determine whether or not this dam should have been constructed.
22 Cheruthoni Dam, India Cheruthoni Dam in India and its effects on the environment and people in the area, as well as its production of hydro power.

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