Water management is conflict management. Regardless of the scale, ensuring that the needs of the people and ecosystems that rely on this critical resource are met effectively requires comprehensive understanding of both water science and water diplomacy, including dispute mitigation, management, and resolution. To address these needs, the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands, the University for Peace (UPEACE) in Costa Rica, and Oregon State University (OSU) in the USA, have embarked on a joint education programme in Water Coooperation and Diplomacy. The goal of this new initiative is to broaden the scope of approach to conflict and peace, provide a more theoretical dimension to conflict, engage multi-level scales of conflict dimensions and strengthen skills through highly experiential learning opportunities.

With a launch slated for summer 2015, the programme will provide tools and training in an international setting, with a unique opportunity to undertake coursework and hands-on experiences in Costa Rica, The Netherlands and the United States. Participants will be exposed to case studies involving diverse challenges and contexts at different scales.

Key strengths of the programme include the following:

  • Exposure to theory followed by practical exposure to contemporary issues through field work at different scales
  • Strong theoretical foundation in peace and conflict studies
  • Particular emphasis on conflict from different points of view
  • Foundation in how to understand the nexus of environment and development: how to integrate water-related issues in a broader environment and development framework
  • Focus on practical skills-training for actual dispute resolution processes
  • Collaborative and interdisciplinary project work
  • Field experience in both the Global South and Global North contexts
  • Extended networking opportunities from different but complementary fields (water-oriented experts, and peace and conflict experts)

As part of the collaborative project at OSU, all students will jointly develop an “applied thesis” centered on a common geographic location. Then students will extend the group work into individual theses. Each student will develop her/his thesis with advisors from any of the three participating universities. Students will be awarded an MA and an MSc in Water Cooperation and Diplomacy.

About the Institutions

IHE-Delft carries out educational, research and capacity development activities in the broad fields of water engineering, water management, sanitation and governance. It is the largest international graduate education institute in the field of water.

UPEACE is a global leader in research and education related to peace, security and conflict and will take the lead in training students in the underlying theories of and approaches to peace, security and conflict. Through this unique partnership, UPEACE will provide a broader historical, legal and theoretical context to water conflict. UPEACE's geographical setting in the Global South will also expose students to water-related conflicts at different scales through field-based study and research.

Oregon State University has a strong graduate program in Water Resources that will provide students with access to a broad range of courses and faculty expertise, and the opportunity to earn a certificate in Water Conflict Management and Transformation (WCMT). The coursework at OSU also offers a field-based component, addressing water conflicts ranging from the local to the international scale.


Zaki Shubber -
Jan Breitling -
Mary Santelmann -