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The western United States is a region with a long history of water challenges. In the American West, over 40 million people depend on the Colorado River. At the same time, the effects of climate change are adding to the challenges.
MSU Denver developed the noncredit Water Studies courses for people interested in safeguarding this precious resource. Students will learn history, law, management, and water trends in Colorado and the American West.
Many industries can benefit from knowing more about water issues and solutions like small farms, wastewater, manufacturing, construction, risk management, utilities, hospitality, green and sustainable industries, law, and engineering.
U.S. Water Concerns
Water is examined as a natural and societal resource using local and national examples. Land-forms and water processes such as the hydrological cycle, watersheds, surface water, and groundwater are surveyed. Students learn about water use in early civilizations, water and culture, water quality and treatment, and water law. Water conservation and scarcity is reviewed in the context of social, legal, political, economic, and physical infrastructure that controls water worldwide
This course surveys U.S. water law and administration. Topics include: why we need laws regulating water use; how ancient water laws influenced U.S. water law; variations of surface and groundwater law, including prior appropriation, riparian, and hybrid; international and interstate agreements and a special focus on water administration in the West.
Colorado Water and the American West
Students will study the rich history of water in Colorado and the American West. From the beginning, humans in the American West have had to contend with arid environments. This course begins with a look at how Ancestral Pueblo and other Native communities used water. Next, the course teaches Hispanic water management practices in the West before finally focusing on the American approach to water management. With Colorado as a focal point, the class will explore the fascinating tangle of federal, state, and local interests that led to one of the greatest hydraulic societies in the history of the world.
Dr. Elizabeth R. McVicker is an expert in water law. She is in great demand because of her knowledge in this area. She serves on the board of three water-related entities: The Center of Colorado Water Conservancy District, the Headwaters of the South Platte Water Enterprise, and the Coalition of the Upper South Platte. She serves as a guest speaker, panelist, and media expert for water-related events, and was instrumental in developing the One World One Water Center and the Water Studies Curriculum.
Dr. Randi Brazeau P.E., received her B.S. and M.E. degrees in Civil Engineering at the University of Florida. After working as an engineering analyst with Kimley-Horn and Associates for two years, she completed a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering – Environmental Water Resources from Virginal Tech under Dr. Marc Edwards. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at MSU Denver where she has been since 2012.
Dr. Matthew S. Makley is a professor of History at MSU Denver, where he has taught for almost 15 years. Previously he taught at Arizona State University, where he earned a Ph.D. in Native American History and the History of the American West. The University of Nevada Press published Makley’s co-authored book, Cave Rock: Climbers, Courts, and a Washoe Indian Sacred Place, in 2010. His more recent book, The Small Shall be Strong: A History of Lake Tahoe’s Washoe Indians, was published in 2018 by the University of Massachusetts Press.
There are no prerequisites required. Students do not need to hold a college degree nor have specific work experience.
Since this is a noncredit certificate, you do not need to complete a formal admissions application. You simply need to register at www.msudenver.edu/onlinewaterstudies.
The cost for each course is $425 plus a $35 transaction fee per payment. There are no textbooks required.
Many employers may pay for their employees to earn this certificate. Payment can be made by the student and reimbursed according to your employer’s rules, or the employer can pay directly for the certificate on your behalf.
Discounts for multiple students from the same organization may apply. Please contact us for more information before registering.
You will receive an automatic receipt via email once you complete the registration.
Noncredit courses and certificates at MSU Denver do not qualify for financial aid.
Unfortunately, we do not offer course waivers based upon education or experience. You must successfully complete all required courses to receive an MSU Denver certificate.
The program is designed for students to take individual courses or complete the entire certificate.
No, you can take the required courses in whatever order you would like.
The courses are offered each Fall and Spring Semester. Each course is one month long. Class schedule for fall 2021:
U.S. Water Concerns is available September 1st – September 30th. The last day to register for this class is August 31st.
Water Law is available October 1st – October 31st. The last day to register for the class is September 30th.
Colorado Water and the American West is available November 1st-November 30th. That last day to register is October 31st.
No, there are no textbooks nor materials required. All material is available within the online course.
Each course is delivered entirely online, and in a self-paced format. You work through the course material as quickly or as slowly as needed. The course material is asynchronous and does not require you to login at a certain time.
Students determine the amount of time needed to master the material provided in each module. The instructor provides assistance when needed.
The course is conducted through Canvas Learning Management System. Course material includes videos from instructors, reading selections, and practical assignments and quizzes. There is no final exam required for completion.
Students may drop or cancel a course up until the day before the course begins and receive a full refund. No refund will be given after the course begins. To drop or cancel a course, please contact Andrea Pazos at [email protected] or 303-615-1234.
Jordan Student Success Building
3rd Floor – #330
Innovative and Lifelong Learning
P.O. Box 173362
Campus Box 6
Denver, CO 80217-3362