Loyola University Chicago

School of Environmental Sustainability



Being in a position where I had to make decisions and where people are counting on me to do my part has really made an impact on my professional development. – Student in STEP Water

ENVS 350A: STEP Water

STEP: Water engages students with learning opportunities presented by a multidisciplinary group of faculty and on-the-ground experts. Students study historical and current water resource issues at multiple scales. They design and implement projects on campus or in the community to help solve water-related challenges.

Spring 2017 STEP: Water Syllabus

Some lecture topics:

  • water sanitation,
  • issues in the Great Lakes,
  • water policy,
  • public health and water-related infectious diseases,
  • spiritual implications of water,
  • history of water infrastructure in Chicago,
  • water and agriculture,
  • water and ecosystems,
  • dam and dam removal,
  • water and climate change adaptation,
  • stormwater management, and
  • social justice and water access.


Readings include scientific studies, government reports and book excerpts highlighting historical and contemporary challenges in water resource management.

Examples of labs, field trips and film discussions:

  • mapping water resources using GIS,
  • Chicago Metropolitan Water Reclamation District,
  • Evanston Water Treatment Plant, and
  • stream quality assessment with Friends of the Chicago River.

Intellectually this course has taught me that all components of sustainability and of our ecosystem at large are vastly interconnected. – Student in STEP Water

Here are some examples of student projects. Students:

  • Developed an Aquaponics system for sustainable fish farming.
  • Piloted a living machine for waste nutrient removal.
  • Studied emerging contaminants in drinking water and aquatic ecosystems.
  • Studied irrigation and rainwater collection.
  • Studied water conservation on campus.
  • Studied stormwater management and sustainable landscaping.
  • Audited water fixtures in Loyola residence halls to identify which to upgrade to conserve water.
  • Created a stormwater educational video for use by an after school program.
  • Investigated microfiber plastic pollution in waterways and produced a white paper summarizing potential policy, manufacturing, and consumer-based solutions.

For more information, contact STEP Coordinator Tania Schusler.