IWC students head to Perth to learn about water and agricultural landscapes
This module is delivered primarily through an intensive seven-day session based at the Crawley Campus of the University of Western Australia (UWA) and is framed around the learning needs of each individual. Prior to travelling to Perth, each participant provided details about their background, education and professional experience, personal learning objectives from the module and the Master of Integrated Water Management (MIWM), career aspirations and a case study they would follow throughout the module to support their learning process.
On Day 1, with a focus on peer learning and personal reflection throughout the module, the participants began presenting their background, learning objectives and case studies. This helped them identify ways they could support each of their peers.
On Day 2 participants were formally welcomed to UWA by Prof Peter Davies, the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research). They were introduced to some of the fundamentals of agriculture, water in agricultural landscapes and the water-energy-food nexus by Prof Neil Coles, and through an afternoon workshop identified the major challenges for water and agricultural landscapes.
Day 3 involved a full-day trip to the north of Perth. Participants explored the complex water and land management challenges of the Gnangara mound, including dealing with a rapidly changing climate, population growth, increasing competition between agriculture, public and private water supply, and the need and approaches used to maintain groundwater dependent ecosystems. With six staff from the Department of Water, including Greg Claydon, Executive Director of Science and Planning joining them, plus visits to market gardens and wetlands, participants took full advantage of the opportunity to discuss the realities of water management and agriculture in a peri-urban context.
Day 4 began with the participants sharing their reflections and learnings from the Gnangara field trip, of which there were many. In an enthusiastic interactive lecture, Prof Ed Barrett-Lennard then introduced participants to the impact of salinity on plant growth and the potential for saline agriculture to contribute to future needs. An afternoon World Café exercise then drew on the participants’ case studies and experience in their home countries to identify opportunities for improving integration and harmonisation in agricultural landscapes.
The Peel-Harvey Catchment south of Perth was the focus of the second field trip on Day 5. Students visited the Peel Harvey Catchment Council, Alcoa Farms, Wokalup Agricultural College, Harvey Water and Harvey Dam, finishing with an explanation on water use in beer brewing and a quick game of cricket at a nearby microbrewery. Throughout the day they met with local stakeholders and businesses, taking the opportunity to discuss local water and agriculture issues and their connection to the broader issues of regional and urban water planning for Perth.
Returning to Crawley campus on Day 6, participants shared their learnings from the Peel-Harvey field trip. Prof Ed Hauck followed with an interactive lecture on the process of developing water policy, sharing examples from agricultural areas around Western Australia. In an afternoon workshop, small groups of participants reflected on the local and global water challenges, shared personal visions for improving on current approaches and discussed each of their case studies, supporting each other in the preparation of final presentation and essays.
On the final day (Day 7), each participant gave a presentation on their main learnings and how they intended to use these in the module's final essay, the Masters and their future careers. Participants and the module coordinators, Profs Susana Neto and Jeff Camkin, then shared their reflections on what had truly been an intensive but highly enjoyable week.
For more information about the field trip or about IWC's Master of Integrated Water Management, contact: