WRC Research Associate Paul Bourget creates roadmap for water resources training guide website

By Paul Bourget

Editor’s note: Paul Bourget spent this past year at the Water Resources Center working on the Water Resources Training and Education website, in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers Institute for Water Resources.

The Water Resources Training and Education website is under initial development to inform prospective students in the U.S. of training opportunities in the field of water resources, from government-sponsored short courses to graduate studies.

The stimulus for this project stemmed from a need identified within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to encourage members of its planning community to pursue graduate-level work. This need was one of the findings of an earlier “Planning Excellence” task force that was formed to improve the level of expertise within that particular group. Planners within the Corps were experiencing workforce attrition within their ranks, while simultaneously being asked to assume new responsibilities. Corps planners were facing new challenges in areas such as public participation and multi-objective analyses. It was therefore felt that the planners as a whole needed to be exposed to emerging water resources challenges within an academic setting in such diverse areas as policy development, participatory planning, applied economics and new modelling methodologies.

The training opportunities that exist within water resources have grown appreciably since that task force deliberated in the early 2000’s, encompassing a variety of inter-disciplinary tracts and training institutions. A field that was previously dominated by engineers and hydrologists has become much more inter-disciplinary in nature and a wide variety of universities and other learning centers have developed a combination of specialized and generalized curricula to meet the demands for a field that continues to evolve. Prospective students, ranging from those who are just starting out to seasoned professionals, now have considerable options for pursuing water resources training, from simply honing their professional skills in a particular area to providing a solid interdisciplinary foundation. Practitioners, for instance, now have the ability to obtain a variety of on-line professional and academic certificates that were non-existent a few short years ago.

The Water Resources Training and Education website, therefore, serves as a roadmap of sorts that allows students to make informed decisions on what training tracts might best match their interests. Although it was designed with the Corps’ planning community in mind, the site’s content is not restricted to the needs of that one organization. Should this information portal prove to be sustainable, there is potential for expanded development in areas such as serving as a useful tool to promote staff exchanges, assisting in the conduct of gap analyses of study areas, facilitating research collaborations, posting training announcements, and promoting inter-institutional course sharing.