The WSSS Practicum
The Practicum offers an opportunity for WSSS students to work in small groups on the integrated assessment of water resources case studies. The goal of the Practicum is to expose students to the techniques and processes of integrated water resource managment in order to train them as researchers and professionals.
Participation in a WSSS practicum is a requirement and limited to those students in the WSSS P track.
Read about WSSS practica from past years:
In 2016, the students enrolled in the P track chose between one of two Practicum project sites: the nearby town of Somerville and the far-away Aida Camp in the West Bank, Palestine.
Palestine Practicum: Aida Camp in the West Bank
Expanding the Activities of the Aida Camp Environment Unit in the West Bank
The Lajee Center and 1for3, two nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the lives of Palestinian refugees living in the West Bank, invited graduate students from the WSSS program at Tufts University – to help assess water quality in al Azza refugee camp in March 2016. Previous groups of WSSS students helped 1for3 and the Lajee Center establish a water quality monitoring program in nearby Aida refugee camp between 2012-2014.
This program served as the model for our work in al Azza camp. The Lajee Center and 1for3 plan to expand the program to other West Bank refugee camps in the future.
Al Azza camp, like most communities in the West Bank and Gaza, faces regular water shortages due in part to underinvestment in the water sector, deteriorating water infrastructure, and inequitable distribution of water resources between Israel and Palestine. The assessment consisted of administering a household survey and testing water samples collected from homes in al Azza camp for E. coli and total coliform bacteria, two common measures of sewage contamination. One of the objectives of the assessment was to obtain data on water quality, availability, and use as well as on potential health issues associated with poor water quality. Another objective was to help the Lajee Center develop a plan for expanding the activities of its Environment Unit, which currently oversees the water quality monitoring program at Aida camp, to other refugee camps and villages in the West Bank. This expansion would begin with the water quality monitoring program and eventually extend to the Unit’s other environmental health and education initiatives based on each community’s individual needs. The Environment Unit’s director and team of student-volunteers have actively engaged the residents of Aida camp in its work there and would seek to engage residents in other camps and villages through their local community centers.
To Improve Environmental Health and Community Well Being
Somerville faces water management challenges that many communities struggle with. In support of Somerville’s longterm community vision to increase both the quality and quantity of public open space, Groundwork Somerville engaged a team of Tufts University graduate students in the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP) program in a semester-long Field Project, from January to May 2016.
The project goal is to assess and prioritize locations within the City where the development of new public green spaces will address various challenges. The team was to develop initial recommendations for green space redevelopment in areas of the City that are most vulnerable to environmental inequities; with a particular focus on using green infrastructure and low impact development strategies to improve local stormwater management. In addition, these recommendations aim to address the social injustices that characterize current access to public green space. The group focused their empirical analysis within Somerville’s environmental justice communities: neighborhoods with the greatest health inequities based on race, income and language barriers. Due to Groundwork’s strong programmatic focus on community engagement, the project’s methodology and recommendation process is presented as a tool that can be modified and discussed with the community.