Netherlands, Utrecht and Middelburg

Future Deltas

when 27 August 2018 - 31 August 2018
language English
duration 1 week
credits 1.5 ECTS
fee EUR 700

River flooding, coastal dynamics, land subsidence, salt water intrusion, livelihoods, governance and environmental law are all important topics for the sustainable management of coastal river deltas worldwide, which are currently under pressure of human impact and climate change. In this course, we offer a unique opportunity to examine natural and social processes affecting delta systems and delta life. With an interdisciplinary team of researchers, students, professionals and practitioners we will explore drivers of change in deltas, impacts of these changes, and sustainable management solutions, by means of lectures, group sessions, and excursions in the Rhine-Meuse delta (NL).

Are you working on river flooding, coastal dynamics, land subsidence, salt water intrusion, livelihoods, governance or land use, environmental or water law? Such topics, covering different disciplines, are all important for the sustainable management of coastal river deltas worldwide, which are currently under pressure of human impact and climate change. In this course, we offer a unique opportunity to further explore your specific working field, framed within a broader context of natural and social processes affecting delta systems and delta life. With an interdisciplinary team of teachers, researchers, students, professionals and practitioners we will explore drivers of change in deltas, impacts of these changes, and sustainable management solutions, by means of lectures, working group sessions, and excursions in the Rhine-Meuse delta (NL). We invite you to join us, to together ensure future delta life!

River deltas are complex systems, and therefore, cover a wide range of topics from both the natural and the social sciences. In this course, you will look beyond your own (research or professional) boundary, and place your expertise in the wider context of sustainable delta management. Integrating disciplines, approaches and experiences is urgently needed because (often densely populated) deltas worldwide are increasingly under pressure of climate change and human impact. For example, deltas suffer from accelerated sea-level rise due to global warming, altered supply of sediment and water due to dike, dam and reservoir construction, accelerated land subsidence due to drainage and extraction of groundwater and hydrocarbons, and loss of habitats and biodiversity due to land use change. These changes affect livelihood conditions, and potentially, societies. To deal with the changing delta conditions and to ensure a sustainable future delta life, we need to understand the driving forces behind the processes of change in a delta, increase our ability to predict impacts, and optimize management and governance solutions. This requires a multi-disciplinary approach, integrating both natural (e.g. physical, biological, chemical) and social (e.g. governance, law, socioeconomic) disciplines.
A unique, interdisciplinary team from Utrecht University is ready to guide you in this course. Together, you will learn (1) how a delta system functions, from different perspectives, (2) why an interdisciplinary approach is needed for sustainable delta management, and (3) to apply this knowledge to find sustainable delta management solutions for specific areas or cases (‘science-meets-practice’). We will focus on four main delta themes: Land Subsidence, Flooding, Salt water intrusion, and Urbanization. These themes will be addressed by interactive lectures, working group sessions, and field excursions to various delta environments, to seek to (1) understand the drivers of these issues, (2) predict the potential impacts on the delta system and on delta life, and (3) find sustainable management solutions.
Quotes from participants of the Future Deltas summer course 2017:
"I had a chance to discuss lots of global change issues with experts and practically see many of those through field excursions."
"The multi-disciplinary approach of solving complex problem was quite unique in the course. We got to learn the social-ecological, physical and legal aspects of different drivers of the delta, their impact and potential solutions."

Course leader

Dr. E. Stouthamer

Target group

Professionals, postdocs, PhD’s, and Master students. Participants should have a background in earth sciences, ecology, human geography, spatial planning, environmental governance or environmental or water law.

Course aim

The aim of this course is to provide participants thorough understanding on interacting physical, ecological, institutional, socio-economic and legal drivers of change in deltas, their impacts, and on solutions for a sustainable management of the world's deltas, to ensure future delta life.

Fee info

EUR 700: Course + course materials + mealplan
EUR 450: Course + course materials + mealplan for Master and PhD students

Register for this course
on course website