Call for Applications

Call for Applications
for a seminar with

Trevor Birkenholtz
Is Water a Human Right?

Time: 9.30 am to 3:30 pm | Date: 2 July 2018 (Monday)
Location: Nepa School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Chabahil, Kathmandu

Applications are invited for this one-day graduate-level seminar to be conducted by Trevor Birkenholtz, Associate Professor of Geography and Geographic Information Science at the Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.

A bachelor’s degree in any discipline is the minimum qualification required of participants. Enrolment is limited to 20 and should the number of applicants exceed that, selection will be based on the strength of the particulars provided in the application available here.

As the seminar will be conducted in English and since all the readings are in English as well, a high level of proficiency in the language is a prerequisite for prospective participants. All the reading material prescribed will be provided at least a week before the seminar and participants will be required to be familiar with the readings before the seminar begins to enable a meaningful engagement with the subject.

A nominal participation fee will be charged to cover logistical costs.

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Is Water a Human Right?
Is there a human right to water? If so, how might we achieve it? In what ways might this concept be problematic and what are the implications for water justice?

In this one-day seminar, we will examine but not necessarily resolve these questions. We will read the leading literature from Geography, Anthropology, Political Science, Sociology, and Women and Gender Studies to analyze the current debates on water allocation, rights and justice. In doing so, we will first examine the Human Rights framework as it applies to access to water, as necessary to sustain life and create prosperity. Second, we will interrogate current challenges to this framework including the commodification of water, peoples’ dispossession of water, gendered access and equity, and justice concerns. The seminar will end, third, with a discussion of whether or not we ought to embrace the ‘Human Right to Water’ framework as a means to achieve water justice for all.


9:30–11:00 am
Session 1: Why a Human Right to Water?
Sultana, F., & Loftus, A. (2012). The Right to Water: Prospects and possibilities. In F. Sultana & A. Loftus (Eds.), The Right to Water: Politics, governance, and social struggles (pp. 1-18). London & New York: Earthscan Gleick, P. H. (2007 (1998)). The human right to water. Water Policy, 1(5), 487-503.


11 am: Break
11:30 am–1 pm

Session 2: Key Debates: Commodification, Dispossession, Equity and Gender
Bakker, K. (2007). The ‘commons’ versus the ‘commodity’: Alter-globalization, anti-privatization and the human right to water in the global south. Antipode, 39(3), 430-455.

Goff, M., & Crow, B. (2014). What is water equity? The unfortunate consequences of a global focus on ‘drinking water’. Water International, 39(2), 159-171.
Mehta, L., Allouche, J., Nicol, A., & Walnycki, A. (2014). Global environmental justice and the right to water: The case of peri-urban Cochabamba and Delhi. Geoforum, 54, 158-166


1–2 pm: Break
2–3:30 pm
Session III: Towards Global Water Justice
Sultana, F., & Loftus, A. (2015). The Human Right to Water: Critiques and Condition of Possibility. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews-Water, 2(2), 97-105.
Loftus, A. (2015). Water (in)security: securing the right to water. Geographical Journal, 181(4)