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 Aid
Navigating Obstructed Waterways  

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

For videos, itunes.union.edu.
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?


Union College

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