Water, Food, and Energy

The nexus of water, energy, and food impacts the environment and communities around the world. Agriculture has the largest water footprint of any human activity and causes 70% of global water withdrawal. Meanwhile, the food industry accounts for 30% of global energy consumption. From the role of water in energy production to the 3,000-5,000 liters of water needed to produce one kilogram of rice, the interconnected systems of water, energy, and food present challenges and opportunities of global significance.

Graduates of this track understand the linkages between water, energy, and food systems and are ready to contribute to high-level policy decisions and the implementation of enduring sustainable development solutions.

The Water, Food, and Energy Track

Water, food, and energy intersect in fascinating and complex ways, providing fertile ground for research, analysis, and innovative solutions. This track is designed to place students at the intersection of these three sectors, with the ability to analyze and shape how they interact and contribute to sustainable communities.

The Water, Food, and Energy track courses center on food and nutrition science, environmental science and engineering, energy production, economics, and policy. The central themes of this track are:

  • The complex and dynamic relationships between water, food, and energy systems
  • The water and energy footprints of agriculture and the food industry
  • Constraints on water, food, and energy systems
  • The design, implementation, and evaluation of solutions to challenges in water, food, and energy domains

As part of the Water, Food, and Energy track, you will join an interdisciplinary network of water practitioners across a range of fields and specialties. Most significantly, you will be provided funding to engage in a summer practicum of your choice, ensuring that you can experience the practical aspects of water, food, and energy that interest you the most.

Career Objectives

The SWM program develops core quantitative and qualitative skills of leadership, data analysis, water economics, and water science and systems. The Water, Food, and Energy track enhances this skillset through rigorous training in water, food, and energy policy, water cycling and reuse, irrigation, reservoirs, efficient water technologies, research methods, and program design and evaluation.

All of these skills apply to careers in the public sector, the private sector, and the non-profit sector. Multilateral organizations like the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Bank need practitioners with the flexibility and expertise to navigate the complex interplay between food, water and energy. Development organizations and local and national governments require dedicated professionals who can harness collaboration and sustainable development across water, food, and energy systems. Our graduates are able to contribute to energy and agricultural companies in the private sector and organizations like the Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council in the non-profit sector who work to harmonize the benefits of water, food, and energy for people and the environment.

Students of the Water, Food, and Energy track graduate equipped to take on roles as leaders, directors, decision-makers, consultants, analysts, technical experts, and project managers. Every level of society is affected by these three systems, and graduates of this track are uniquely equipped to develop and implement holistic and innovative solutions that directly benefit human societies.