Major Seminar

Water, Development and Global History, 1850-Present

Water is our most essential resource. Without it, of course, there is no life. Depending on where in the world one lives water can be abundant or it can be scarce. But no matter where one looks there is a history of human interactions with water—world history, environmental history, legal history and more.  We will explore some of that history.  Topics for readings and papers may include, among others: indigenous water rights; the historical origins of uneven access to clean water around the world; the discovery of water borne diseases in the 19th century; the damming of rivers for irrigation and power; the emergence of the multi-billion dollar bottled water industry; climate change and water; the unequal impact of flooding on rich and poor; and health and water. We will explore many kinds of materials: primary and secondary historical texts; photographs; films; and more.


Students will write a 20-30 page paper based on primary sources. 

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
Department Contacts