Tradition, Technology and Transition: Water Security on the Navajo Nation
Monday, January 14, 2019
The future of the Navajo Nation depends on access to clean water for drinking and farming, but the area is vulnerable to drought, and many water sources are contaminated. Students of Terrascope Mission 2022 find solutions blending cutting-edge technology with traditional Navajo practices and culture.
Mission 2022's objective: To propose economically feasible solutions that align with Diné values to improve water quality and accessibility in the Navajo Nation.
The Navajo Nation faces a severe lack of access to potable water. As of 2018, 40% of households do not have access to running water (Dig Deep, 2018) , and the region has experienced periods of drought for more than a century (Crimmins, 2013). The lack of reliable access to clean water presents a barrier to the safety, health, and wellbeing of Diné living in the Navajo Nation. As this year's class of Terrascope, a first-year learning community at MIT, we focused on Navajo water security, ensuring sustainable access to adequate amounts of clean water for the Navajo Nation.
A warm, supportive learning community in which first-year students take ownership of their education as they address complex, real-world sustainability issues. In the fall term (Subject 12.000 “Solving Complex Problems”), Terrascope students work in teams to develop solutions to their Mission and present these solutions to a panel of decision-makers and experts. In the spring term, students have the chance to design and prototype specific technologies that address problems they have identified in Subject 2.00C/1.016/EC.746 (“Design for Complex Environmental Issues”). In a separate class (Subject SP.360, “Terrascope Radio”), students create a radio program that communicates their ideas to the wider public. Additionally, a spring-break trip enables students to travel to see first hand the problem they have been working on all year. Students will gain new knowledge from the Terrascope experience, but more importantly, they will emerge uniquely prepared to tackle complex problems in interdisciplinary, student-led teams.