General Education 1300 (GNED 1300-5) - First Year Seminar

Water and the West

MEB 103
11:30-12:20 MWF

Faculty Instructor: Dr. Steven Bachrach, Dr. D. R. Semmes Distinguished Professor of Chemistry
408C MEB, Department of Chemistry
phone: 999-7379 
office hours: 9:30 - 11:00 MWF or by appointment
Peer Tutor: Kate Wetzel
phone: 829-8537
office hours: TBA
Course web page:

Schedule of Topics:



Background to the Water Problem

Chapter One from Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner
Chapter One from Crossing the Next Meridian by Charles Wilkerson
West's Grand Old Water Doctrine Dies by Charles Wilkerson in Water and the West pp. 16-27
handout from Vision in the Desert by Jack August
handout from Overtapped Oasis by Marc Reisner and Sarah Bates

Web Resources:

History of Water Law
Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe

The Watering of Los Angeles

Chapter Two from Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner
Chinatown directed by Roman Polanski

Salmon and the Pacific Northwest

Chapter Five from Crossing the Next Meridian by Charles Wilkerson
Section Two from Water and the West pp. 35-78
pages 162-175 from Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner

Web Resources:

Salmon News form the National Wildlife Federation
Salmon Information Center
The Great Salmon Hoax by James Buchal
The Columbia Basin Bulletin
Tidepool Salmon Report

Echo Canyon and Glen Canyon Dam

Section Three from Water and the West pp. 79-142
Chapter Eight from Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner
Down the River from Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Handout from Rainbow Bridge by Hank Hasell

Lecture Notes on Echo Park from 10/29/01 class

Web Resources:

Bureau of Reclamation Glen Canyon Page
How much water is being released from Glen Canyon Dam?
Draining Glen Canyon
Glen Canyon Institute
Glen Canyon Action Network
Conrolled Releases from Glen Canyon Dam
US Geological Survey
Controlled Floods
Glen Canyon Dam research on related issues
Grand Canyon Flood

Northern New Mexico and the 
Native American Experience

Section Six from Water and the West pp. 245-276
Chapter Six from Crossing the Next Meridian by Charles Wilkerson
The Milagro Beanfield War directed by Robert Redford

Web Resources:

Bibliography of Native American Water Rights
Federal Trusteeship and Western Water
Arizona Department of Water Resources Indian Water Rights
Animas-La Plata Project
Animas-La Plata Information from Bureau of Reclamation - read background information and fact sheet
Animas-La Plata Information - we will discuss first two articles in the Tribal validity section
Animas-La Plata Central
Living River article

Water and the Desert

Water from Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
The Secret Knowledge of Water: Discovering the Essence of the American Desert by Craig Childs

Purpose of the course:

First Year Seminar is designed to prepare entering Trinity University students to evaluate materials, develop critical thinking skills, and develop communication skills both verbally and in written form. The different sections of GNED 1300 approach these goals from various perspectives and differing subjects, but all maintain a fundamental consistency in focus on student participation and student-led direction.

This class will explore a variety of topics related to water policy and the development of the American West. These topics are listed in the schedule above and will allow for a fairly wide-ranging discussion. While we discuss technology, economics, history, public policy, etc., please do not lose sight of the main goal - development of critical thinking and communication skills that will be applicable to all aspects of your scholastic and professional careers.


There are five assigned books for this course. These books can be purchased at the campus bookstore or at many other bookstores in San Antonio or online.
Water and the West edited by Char Miller
Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water by Marc Reisner
Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey
Crossing the Next Meridian: Land, Water, and the Future of the West by Charles F. Wilkinson
The Secret Knowledge of Water: Discovering the Essence of the American Desert by Craig Childs
We will be reading a significant portion of each of these books, along with selected readings from other sources. Students will be asked to uncover other articles and books of interest and report and comment on these during class. There are a number of web resources listed in the class web page; you should read these and check the web site regularly for additional sources.

We will also view two films related to water policy:

Chinatown directed by Roman Polanski
The Milagro Beanfield War directed by Robert Redford

We will schedule a viewing time for these films at a mutually agreed-upon time. The films are also on reserve and can be viewed in the library at your own convenience.


You will be evaluated on two factors, oral and written communication. The oral component will be worth 40% of the grade and will be evaluated based on your participation in class and your oral report. The written component will be based on four essays (40%) and a report (20%).

Attendence at all class sessions is mandatory. Every three class absences that are unexcused will result in a one-letter grade reduction in the course grade. Excused absences will be made at the discretion of the instructor only. Students are expected to come to class prepared to discuss the day's topic(s). This means that all relevant materials have been read and understood prior to class. Be sure to regularly check the course web page since additional recommended resources will be made available throughout the semester. (In fact, student input of additional relevant sites is encouraged and sought after.) Class participation in the classroom discussions will constitute half of the oral component of your grade (in other words, 20% of your overall grade). Class participation means actively partaking in the discussions, asking questions, coherently arguing your opinion, politely but vigorously objecting to some opinions, defending others. I expect all students to feel free to make any comments the wish, without insult or fear. Honest discussion and argument will require all of us to respect each other. Your grade is not dependent on your opinion coinciding with mine! (I may, in fact, take contrary positions in class simply to stimulate discussions within certain areas.) If you have not talked in class for a period or two, expect to be called upon at the next session.

Each student will lead the class dicsussion for one class period. This invlolves having thoroughly read the pertinent materials and developed a list of questions and comments to launch the day's class discussions. We will develop a schedule for the student lead discussions in the second week of class. Each student will meet with Dr. Bachrach a few days prior to the class they will lead to discuss the topics they plan to cover in class. The remaining portion of your oral grade (20% of your class grade) will be judged on your ability to lead the class discussion. We will have open dates so any student who wishes a second opportunity to lead the discussion, for example, if you performed poorly, can repeat as class leader. The schedule of the discussion leaders will be posted on the class web site as soon as possible.

The four short essays will be assigned about every 3-4 weeks during the semester. The dates and topics of each essay will be announced in class at least 2 weeks prior to their due date. The essays will be evaluated predominantly on the basis of the quality of your ideas and how well you argue the issues. A final long report (8-10 pages) will be due the last day of class. This report will be a research project on some aspect of water policy and we will discuss potential topics later in the semester.

All essays and reports must be written in grammatically correct English. While this course is not an introduction to rhetoric or writing techniques, poorly written prose dramatically reduces the impact and quality of an argument. If you are unsure of a grammatical rule or spelling, please consult appropriate resources, like a dictionary, a writing style guide, the Peer Tutor or the Writing Center. Essays must have an introduction, a body where the major arguments are made, and a conclusion. References must be cited completely and correctly, following a consistent format and style. All essays must cite at least 4 works and the long report must cite at least 10 references.

All papers must be your own original work. Be aware of what constitutes plagiarism and theft of intellectual property and be sure to understand the University's rules on academic integrity. Plagiarism will be dealt with in the most severe terms possible under the University policy.


Attendance in the class is mandatory. Since a sizable portion of your grade is based on your participation in the discussions, any absence makes it impossible to particpate and therefore diminishes your performance. Furthermore, the success of this class is predicated upon active participation by all students. Therefore, for every three unexcused absences your course grade will be reduced by one full letter grade. Excused absences will be granted at the discretion of Dr. Bachrach alone.

Student Discussion Leader Schedule

Monday, October 1 Wednesday, October 3
Paul West
Friday, October 5
Monday, October 8
Chad Stroberg
Wednesday, October 10
Suzanne Blank
Friday, October 12
Monday, October 15
Anthony Smith
Wednesday, October 17
Samantha Spaman
Friday, October 19
Monday, October 22
Kim Larson
Wednesday, October 24
Michael Steer
Friday, October 26
Fall Break
Monday, October 29 Wednesday, October 31 Friday, November 2
Michael Miranda
Monday, November 5
John Roseberry
Wednesday, November 7
Kathleen Fenske
Friday, November 9
Monday, November 12
Quincy Ely-Cate
Wednesday, November 14
Christina Hughes
Friday, November 16
Monday, November 19
Bradley Nguyen
Wednesday, November 21
Jackie Brown
Friday, November 23
Monday, November 26
Stacey Connelly
Wednesday, November 28 Friday, November 30