Grand challenges for hydrology education in the 21st century

Benjamin L. Ruddell, Thorsten Wagener

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


A thorough understanding of the hydrosphere is crucial for the sustainable evolution of human society and the ecosystem in a rapidly changing world. This understanding can only come from well-trained professionals in the field of hydrology working in research and practice. In civil and environmental engineering, this knowledge is the basis for the design of infrastructure and its management. This paper briefly reviews the historical development of engineering hydrology education from the middle of the twentieth century. The twentieth century was characterized by the establishment in the 1950s and 1960s of a clear, modern, and durable vision for hydrology education as a distinct formal program of study, and the consolidation in the 1990s of the original vision. In recent years, a series of publications has expanded the traditional vision of hydrology education. This recent literature emphasizes formalized approaches to hydrology education, including community-developed curricular resources, data-based and modeling-based curricula, formally assessed pedagogies, and formalization of nontraditional pedagogies. Based on these findings, the authors present several challenges for hydrology education in the 21st century. Central themes of the challenges for hydrology education are the development of international hydrology education communities and networks, shared learning technologies-partially driven by the need for a more mechanistic approach to engineering hydrology, formalized and validated pedagogies, and adaptations of international best educational practices to regionally specific hydrology and socioeconomic context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA4014001
JournalJournal of Hydrologic Engineering - ASCE
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Challenges
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Hydrology
  • Pedagogy
  • Priorities
  • Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • General Environmental Science


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