Water: Systems, Science, and Society (WSSS)
An Interdisciplinary PhD and MS Program
Tufts University, Medford, MA USA
Download the Brochure (pdf)

"…in the 21st Century we have to develop an integrated approach across the disciplines to understand the complexity of water issues worldwide." -Dr. Rita Coldwell, NSF Director

To meet this challenge, Tufts University has launched the Water: Systems, Science, and Society (WSSS) Ph.D. and MS Program. The purpose of the WSSS program is to provide the multidisciplinary perspectives and tools to manage water related problems. Students participating in the WSSS program enroll in and fulfill the requirements of a graduate degree within one of the participating departments to ensure a strong knowledge base in their chosen field as well complete WSSS requirements. WSSS students work in one of five Research Areas on interdisciplinary, problem-focused projects. The WSSS curriculum provides students the necessary tools and skills to address the multidimensional problems inherent in water resource issues. WSSS students take four core courses and participate in cross-cutting seminars. WSSS students also participate in field research or internships and skill workshops while completing their research.

WSSS Research Areas

Water, Climate, and Environmental Change
Impacts of climate change on water resources in metropolitan and rural areas and adaptation strategies; integrated assessment modeling; and effects of precipitation and streamflow changes on food production, and human and animal health in the developing world.

Water and Public Health
Links between waterborne diseases and water quality characteristics and the effects of climate variability and change; delineation of relationships among watershed ecosystems, animal life and human health; and integrative system-wide studies in developed and developing countries.

Watershed Restoration and Management
Development of models, monitoring methods, and decision support system tools to facilitate assessment, management, and restoration of brown fields, watersheds, wetlands, and rivers in industrialized and developing nations.

Water, Food and Livelihood Security
Focus on how water availability, access, and use affect agricultural production, other income-generating activities, and household food and livelihood security in developing countries, uses of seasonal climate forecasting, water issues in famine relief.

Water and National and International Security
An emerging area of research that includes technology monitoring, smart sensor development, managing vulnerable populations and infrastructure, and responses of social and governance systems to threats on water quality, supply and distribution.

Core Courses

Systems Analysis
Basics of system evaluation, optimization modeling, statistical analysis, simulation modeling, decision analysis, risk assessment, multi-criteria analysis, and the development of indicators and metrics for analyzing problems.

Water Science and Engineering
Scientific and engineering principles required to understand and solve problems related to water quality and supply. Topics include hydrology, hydraulics, water resources and environmental engineering, contaminant fate and transport, water management.

Biological Aspects of Water, Health and Nutrition
Identification and classification of water-borne health related contaminants, demonstration of how contaminants are detected, and critical assessment of the appropriateness of specific interventions in ameliorating impacts of these agents. Also includes pathophysiology and epidemiology of selected human diseases and roles of adequate hydration in ensuring viable nutrition.

Water Resources Planning and Policy
Exploring the roles of planning and policy in managing and protecting water resources. Topics include institutions, regulations, economics, social impact assessment, ethics, and the principles and practice of integrated water resources management.

Additional Program Elements

In addition to the four core course requirements for the WSSS program, students will participate in the following integrative activities:

  • Seminar
  • Field Internships
  • Skill Workshops
  • Interdisciplinary Research

Application Process

  • Applicants sought from a variety of graduate and undergraduate degree programs.
  • Applications are submitted to participating departments and students specify their interest in WSSS. Students receive their degree from the participating department.
  • Application forms available online at: www.tufts.edu/source/gradprog.html

A partnership among:
Tufts School of Arts and Sciences
Tufts School of Engineering
The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
Tufts Medical School
The Friedman School of Nutrition
Science and Policy &
Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine

For More Information Contact:

Dr. Paul Kirshen (Co-Chair)
Department of Civil Environmental Engineering
Tufts University
Medford, MA 02144
(617) 627-5589
Dr. Beatrice Rogers
Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Tufts University
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 636-3703

WSSS Faculty - Research Areas

School of Arts and Sciences
Jonathan Kenny*

Characterization of organics

Frank Ackerman Environmental Economics
Astier Almedom Bio-medical Anthropology
Lawrence Bacow Environmental Economics & Policy
Scott Horsley Water Resources Policy & Planning
Sheldon Krimsky Environmental Policy & Ethics
David O'Leary Comparative Religion & Ethics
Ann Rappaport Environmental Science & Management
Michael Reed Ecology, Conservation
Albert Robbat Speciation, Detection, Instrumentation
Rhonda Ryznar Environmental Planning and GIS
Jay Shimshack Environmental Economics & Policy
David Walt Sensors & Pathogen Detection
Jon Witten Land Use Planning
School of Engineering
Richard Vogel* Hydrology, Water Resources
Paul Kirshen* Water Resources Systems
Linda Abriola Groundwater Pollution/Remediation
Steven Chapra Water Quality, Mathematical Modeling
John Durant Environmental Fate & Transport
David Gute Epidemiology & Public Health
David Kaplan Environmental Microbiology Fletcher
School of Law and Diplomacy
William Moomaw* Environmental Policy & Negotiations
Leila Fawaz Interstate Disputes in the Middle East
Medical School
Jeffrey Griffiths* Water-born Disease
Elena Naumova Public Health, Mathematical Modeling
Veterinary School
Christine Jost* Ecosystem Health Assessment
Saul Tzipori Waterborne Pathogens
Mark Pokras Ecology & Disease
Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Patrick Webb* Household Water Security
Beatrice Rogers* Economics/Food Policy
Peter Walker Natural Disaster Relief

Email FirstName.LastName@tufts.edu *School Coordinator

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