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New Fall 2020 Course: Data, Science and Diplomacy

Nile Dam

September 9, 2020

The Middle East Center is offering a new course this fall titled “Data, Science and Diplomacy” (JSIS 478/578) to be taught by Jackson School Senior Lecturer Frederick Michael Lorenz JD, LLM. 

The course aims to bring together students and experts from engineering, sciences, and international relations to develop a new cohort of professionals to work in the emerging field of data, science and diplomacy. 

The structure of the course will involve a combination of lecture and class discussion, drawing on the expertise in Computer Science, the School of the Engineering, the School of the Environment, and the Jackson School of International Studies. Case studies featured in the course and will include:  

  • Nile Basin Case Study:  States only abide by rules of law, which they have consented to. A similar problem relates to scientific data that might not be consistent with national interests. Ethiopia is now developing the Grand Renaissance Dam, but Egypt views the dam as a serious threat to sovereignty and water security.  Egypt has resorted to veiled threats of military force to protect national interests. Despite the availability of engineering studies and a wide range of scientific data, the parties have been unable to agree on terms that meet the needs of all parties.  
  • Tigris-Euphrates Case Study:  The Euphrates-Tigris Basin is considered the cradle of civilization, but Turkey controls the headwaters of the Euphrates River, and the downstream states, Syria and Iraq, are highly dependent on the flow of fresh water. Turkey is in the process of building a major hydropower and irrigation system that will significantly diminish the flow to its neighbors.  A lack of consensus on the hydrologic and scientific data has made the problems even more difficult to resolve. 
  • Mekong River Case Study: The Mekong River and its watershed are facing unprecedented challenges from land cover conversion, hydropower development, and climate change. The countries of the basin are not united in solving the problems, although the Mekong River Commission is working to improve cooperation. Science and water data play a major role in the basin, but a lack of trust impedes further progress. 

For more information about the course, contact: Frederick “Rick” Lorenz, Jackson School Senior Lecturer