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Professional Development


JUNE 7, 2021


During this professional development event, our mission is to encourage you to think both within and outside of the classroom. To think both locally in Charleston, SC and globally, in the Netherlands, Australia, and Bangladesh - and to see how you, together with powerful, similar-thinking allies all across the country and the globe, can respond to flooding both in the classroom and in the field. We will have four powerful presenters, along with allies and peers from schools around the world, who will share how they work water, and water management, into the curriculum.

“Environmental sustainability,” states the World Commission on Environment and Development in Our Common Future, “is development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

This PD presents an interdisciplinary study of water underpinned by two of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

SDG 6 with its stated goal of aiming to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water for all, confirms the importance of water and sanitation in the global political agenda. 

Managing water sustainably will reduce the impacts of water-related disasters, particularly floods, which is the core tenet of SDG 11, making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Water-sensitive/resilient urban design would lead to a better water management including for stormwater, groundwater and wastewater management and water supply.

The SDGs recognise the many inequalities in how different countries and communities are affected by climate change and utilise 1their water resources, which is why we have the voices of the Netherlands, Australia, and Bangladesh speaking about their different realities.


Meet the speakers

Veronica Strang

Professor Strang started her career as a freelance writer exploring environmental issues, which took her from the UK, to the Caribbean and then to Canada. Projects with the Ministry of the Environment in Ontario led to her involvement in the production of the 1987 Brundtland Report, “Our Common Future”. This raised key questions for her about why some societies are better at living with the non-human world than others. In her search for answers, Strang completed a Master’s and PhD in Cultural Anthropology. 

Download her presentation.

Learn more about Prof. Strang's work.


Ralph Schielen

Dr Schielen is an expert on water management issues, in particular river management, hydraulics and morphology, at Rijkswaterstaat and Technical University of Delft. He is responsible for coordinating river research within Rijkswaterstaat and a project leader of Rivers2Morrow. As a contributor to the Deltaprogramme, Schielen is involved in creating long term strategies (2050 and 2100) aimed at protecting the Netherlands from future floodings. 

Download his presentation.

Learn more about Dr. Schielen's work.


Helen Kopnina

Dr. Kopnina, who obtained her Ph.D. at Cambridge University in 2002, is currently employed at The Hague University of Applied Science (HHS) in The Netherlands. She is responsible for coordinating the Sustainable Business program and conducting research within three main areas: sustainability, environmental education and biological conservation. Helen is the author of over two hundred articles and a co-author and -editor of seventeen books. 

Download her presentation.

Learn more about Dr Kopnina's work.



BRAC is an international development organisation based in Bangladesh. In order to receive foreign donations, BRAC was subsequently registered under the NGO Affairs Bureau of the Government of Bangladesh. BRAC is the largest non-governmental development organisation in the world, in terms of number of employees as of September 2016. Established by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed in 1972 after the independence of Bangladesh, BRAC is present in all 64 districts of Bangladesh as well as 11 other countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

Download their presentation here.

Learn more about their work.


Jesse hoffman

Dr. Jesse Hoffman is Assistant Professor at the Urban Futures Studio and the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development. Dr. Hoffman studies how societal and political groups may become more imaginative and creative in addressing issue such as climate change. The idea that fighting climate change may also enable a future that is more democratic and socially equitable is central to his research. Dr Hoffman and his colleagues have experimented with new forms of education that connect 'the classroom' to societal developments. One example is the course 'Techniques of Futuring: A Mixed Classroom’. 

Learn more about Jesse's work.


The Netherlands, Australia, and Bangladesh are worlds apart in many ways. Yet, in dealing with the effects of climate change on their natural environments, a common thread binds them— water.

How these countries deal with the myriad water challenges they face, such as rising sea levels and devastating floods, make them great partners. There is a wealth of knowledge and expertise to be shared and learnt from each of these countries, despite their differences. Collaboration in this respect helps achieve the UN’s SDGs.

There are two main approaches taken by the countries — prevention and mitigation. Both are needed and neither is sufficient.

The Netherlands and Charleston

Charleston has suffered from drainage and flooding problems since its founding 300 years ago. It is difficult to protect a city from water that is surrounded by it, next to the ocean, and only a few feet above mean sea level in many places. Various water management techniques have been implemented since the 1800s with varying degrees of success.

When talking of water, who better to learn from than the Dutch? Situated in a low-lying delta formed by the outflow of three major rivers— the Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt, one-third of the country is below sea level and two-thirds are vulner­able to flooding.

In the Netherlands, water management and flood resilience are as old as the country itself. Unlike the US, which faces an incredible diversity of natural hazards which are equally threatening in their own way—be it tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods—the Dutch have seen water and flooding as the single greatest, almost existential, threat to them. This has allowed them to claim an almost unparalleled reputation in avoiding such crises.

the netherlands


Further Resources