Water, Society and Sustainability


Prof. Jenia Mukherjee

IIT Kharagpur

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SKU: IIT Kharagpur Category:


The global water scenario is beset by multiple challenges: water availability, severe inequity to water access and entitlements across social and spatial lines, frequent floods and droughts, disputes over corporate control of limited water resources, etc. The world appears to be on track to halve the number of people without access to safe clean water. However, in the urban Global South, this success masks regional and local inequalities and a process of urbanization without infrastructure, which is particularly acute in the growing peripheries of existing cities. Interestingly enough, lessons can be learnt from small-scale community water conservation practices and localized needs-driven initiatives. Within this context, it is important to understand and address water beyond the physical and technical attributes and explore the complex and cyclical processes through which water shapes, and, is in turn shaped by society. The course is located at the intersections across water, technology, science and society towards sustainable future. It combines fundamental theoretical, methodological approaches and empirical case studies to introduce and familiarize students with water-society relationship: the contemporary challenges and prospective potentials.


Located at the intersections across science, society, technology and sustainability, the course will be highly relevant for students from different disciplinary backgrounds including: agriculture,
water resource engineering, environmental sciences, rural development, civil engineering, geology and humanities and social sciences.


Bengal National Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Other companies interest (some of which have approached the instructor) can be explored.


Dr Jenia Mukherjee is Assistant Professor at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. Her research interest spans across environmental humanities, transdisciplinary water research and urban studies. In 2013, she was awarded the World Social Science Fellowship by the International Social Science Council. In 2010 and 2015 she received the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Government of Australia sponsored Australian Leadership Awards Fellowship (ALAF) for her research on riverine island communities. She had conducted and organized several workshops, conferences and seminars. She had recently organized an AICTE course on ‘Combining Hydrology and Hydrosocial: Towards Comprehensive Understanding of River Systems at IIT Kharagpur (October 2017). She had published three books, several articles and book chapters in peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes. Presently, she is leading three international projects funded by AHRC-ICHR, EU-ICSSR and SSHRC (Canada) at IIT Kharagpur apart from and along with co-investigation of multiple projects funded by national agencies like DST. She received the prestigious Carson Writing Fellowship in 2019 from the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Development, Munich (Germany) for completing her book: Blue Infrastructures of Kolkata: Natural History, Political Ecology and Urban Development in Kolkata (Springer Nature: Singapore, 2020). She is member at the international advisory committee for the TU-Delft conference on Sociohydrology to be held in September 2021. She is the lead (guest) editor for the (forthcoming: 2022) Special Issue on ‘Sociohydrology: Solutions Related to Actual Interventions’, Frontiers in Water.

Certification Process

1. Join the course
Learners may pay the applicable fees and enrol to a course on offer in the portal and get access to all of its contents including assignments. Validity of enrolment, which includes access to the videos and other learning material and attempting the assignments, will be mentioned on the course. Learner has to complete the assignments and get the minimum required marks to be eligible for the certification exam within this period.

COURSE ENROLMENT FEE: The Fee for Enrolment is Rs. 1000 + GST

2. Watch Videos+Submit Assignments
After enrolling, learners can watch lectures and learn and follow it up with attempting/answering the assignments given.

3. Get qualified to register for exams
A learner can earn a certificate in the self paced course only by appearing for the online remote proctored exam and to register for this, the learner should get minimum required marks in the assignments as given below:

Assignment score = Score more than 50% in at least 3/4 assignments.
Exam score = 50% of the proctored certification exam score out of 100
Only the e-certificate will be made available. Hard copies will not be dispatched.”

4. Register for exams
The certification exam is conducted online with remote proctoring. Once a learner has become eligible to register for the certification exam, they can choose a slot convenient to them from what is available and pay the exam fee. Schedule of available slot dates/timings for these remote-proctored online examinations will be published and made available to the learners.

EXAM FEE: The remote proctoring exam is optional for a fee of Rs.1500 + GST. An additional fee of Rs.1500 will apply for a non-standard time slot.

5. Results and Certification
After the exam, based on the certification criteria of the course, results will be declared and learners will be notified of the same. A link to download the e-certificate will be shared with learners who pass the certification exam.


Course Details

Week 1:
  • Setting the Context
  • Beyond Hydrology
  • Socio Hydrology
  • Political Ecology of Water
  • Hydrosocial
Week 2:
  • Critical Physical Geography
  • The South Asian Context
  • Water Harvesting and Water Use Techniques in Ancient India 1
  • Water Harvesting and Water Use Techniques in Ancient India 2
  • Water Harvesting and Water Use Techniques in Ancient India 3
Week 3:
  • Water Technology in Medieval India 1
  • Water Technology in Medieval India 2
  • ‘Colonial Hydrology’
  • Dams and Development in Contemporary India
  • The Farakka Barrage Project: Historical and Technical Details
Week 4:
  • The Farakka Barrage Project: Socio-environmental Implications
  • Urban Waters: Historical and Political Ecological Perspectives
  • Transforming Trajectories of Blue Infrastructures of Kolkata
  • Peri-urban Water Justice in the Global South
  • Discussion and Conclusion

Books and References

  1. Acharya A (2015) The cultural politics of waterscapes. In: Bryant RL (ed) The International Handbook of Political Ecology. Cheltenham, UK ; Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp.373–386.
  2. Allen A, Hofmann P, Mukherjee J and Walnycki A (2017) Water trajectories through non-networked infrastructure: insights from peri-urban Dar es Salaam, Cochabamba and Kolkata. Urban Research & Practice 10(1):22–42.
  3. Bakker K (2003) Archipelagos and networks: urbanization and water privatization in the South. The Geographical Journal 169(4): 328–341.
  4. Bouleau G (2014) The co-production of science and waterscapes: The case of the Seine and the Rhône Rivers, France. Geoforum 57: 248–257.
  5. Budds J, Linton J and McDonnell R (2014) The hydrosocial cycle. Geoforum 57: 167–169.
  6. Budds J (2009) Contested H2O: Science, policy and politics in water resources management in Chile. Geoforum 40(3): 418–430.
  7. D’Souza, R (2006) Water in British India: The Making of a ‘Colonial Hydrology. History Compass 4/4: 621-28.
  8. D’Souza R (2009) River as resource and land to own: the great hydraulic transition in Eastern India. In: Conference on Asian environments shaping the world: conceptions of nature and environmental practices, 19-21 March, 2009, National University of Singapore, Singapore.
  9. Mukherjee J (2018) From hydrology to hydrosocial: historiography of waters in India. In: J. Caradonna (ed.), Routledge Handbook of the History of Sustainability (UK: Routledge).
  10. Klingensmith D (2007) One valley and a thousand: dams, nationalism, and development. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  11. Swyngedouw E (2009) The political economy and political ecology of the hydro-Social Cycle. Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education 142(1): 56–60.


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