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An inside look at the Collaborative Water Program

Monday, March 13, 2017

Collaborative Water Program student, Danielle Lindamood, was accepted into the "Water Innovation Lab - India" program in the fall of 2016. It brought together 35 students and water practitioners from around the world for a two-week field experience in locations around India. She spent two weeks overseas exploring different water problems and contexts, and presenting innovative ideas for solutions.

Below she has written about her experience in India and her experience in being a part of the Water Institute’s Collaborative Water Program.

An Inside Look into the Collaborative Water Program

By: Danielle Lindamood

Dedicating my life and studies to the world of water is one of the most beautiful accidents that has ever happened to me.

This accidental foray into water began for me in 2014. With a background in global studies, I found myself working as a sustainable development intern in The Gambia with low-tech waste water systems and community-based water solutions. That summer, water began to seep into my life and my worldview. I worked with communities to better understand their water needs and connected with local NGOs to design sustainable water solutions. I was also able to work with the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights to develop their literature around the right to water and sanitation.

danielle in africa

As I returned to North America, the world around me began to transform as I experienced my surroundings through a more water-focused lens and when I committed to pursuing a Master’s degree in the sustainability field, I knew it would involve water in one way or another.

"There are not many programs around the world that integrate environmental science and social science together in one sphere, and even fewer who do it in a meaningful way. I have found that the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Environment, and the Water Institute’s Collaborative Water Program have made my time as a graduate student go from meaningful to life-changing."

The Collaborative Water Program (CWP) brings together students from diverse academic backgrounds who are all completing research that involves water, including disciplines like hydrology, political science, biology, chemistry, ecology, sociology, economics, architecture, geography, and more. Completing the certificate program not only helped me form a deeper appreciation for the importance of my own expertise, but it also enabled me to broaden my water knowledge, refine my ability to communicate across disciplines, and ultimately understand the dire need for collaborative work on water issues.

danielle on boat

While having more knowledge and communication abilities has been helpful, understanding the need for collaboration on water issues has opened my eyes to numerous opportunities. In many ways, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) – universal access to clean water and sanitation – is a universal validation on the need for collaboration in water issues across human and environmental systems. My research engages with the achievability of SDG 6, especially surrounding the ways we govern water as a resource and human right. During my field work in India, I sought out opportunities to hear more perspectives and develop relationships across different areas of water management and governance. More recently, I participated in Waterlution’s Water Innovation Lab – India where I was able to explore diverse perspectives on water issues in India with a group of 50 people working across all areas of the water world.

"By seeing the value in collaboration and bringing that to my real-world experiences, I have been able to cultivate the most robust, profound, and supportive network of friends and colleagues I have ever known. It has also helped me solidify the knowledge that I want to pursue work in the field of water management and governance for people and planet alike."

Overall, the lessons the CWP taught me have translated directly into my research, network, and career goals, but it has also made me optimistic about the future of our water resources. Water is inherently complex because of the way it pervades both human and environmental systems. Ultimately, no one person working in a water-related field is going to be able to solve every water issue. By stepping outside of my comfort zone and being willing to explore the value of disciplines and relationships outside my areas of expertise, I now see the immense power in collaborating on solutions to our complex water problems. The journey will undoubtedly be more fruitful and our goals more attainable in working together towards a more sustainable water future. 

About the author:

danielle lindamoodDanielle Lindamood is a California native studying at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. Pursuing a Masters in Sustainability Management, Danielle works in the areas of governance, policy, social-ecological systems, adaptive co-management, sustainable development, and water. Her thesis engages with the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal 6 - universal access to clean water and sanitation - exploring governance structures and mechanisms for enhancing the achievability of this goal. When she's not working on her research, Danielle enjoys playing music, rock climbing, backpacking, searching for the best cup of coffee, and good conversations with friends and colleagues.

If you're interested in learning more about Danielle's work at the University of Waterloo, feel free to contact her at dlindamo@uwaterloo.ca