Water is a Right: A Critique of Curricular Materials and Learning Experiences in Schools Sponsored by the Transnational Water Utility Service Industry

J. Hall


There is no longer an infinite supply of fresh water on the planet. In large part, the global water crisis is a result of large-scale, destructive, industrial "innovations." In just fifteen years, two-thirds of the people on the planet will feel the impact of the diminishment of safe drinking water. Given the global water crisis, the focus is this analysis is on the transnational water utility service industry as well as the larger shift from the notion of drinking water as a public right to a commodity to be privately owned and sold on the global marketplace. I discuss the very different ways these corporations are entering communities in the Southern compared to the Northern hemisphere, including attempts to re-brand their image after public failures. I then consider the particular strategies these conglomerates use to seep into cities and towns in the North. Emphasis is placed on how this sector of the water industry is becoming involved in schooling through sponsoring curricular materials and activities. I also provide initial analysis of the messages distributed in a sample of such materials and activities intended for K-12 students. While literature exists that explores curricular materials in schools provided by transnational corporations involved in direct control of natural resources, surprisingly, the privatization of the world's fresh water supply receives little attention in both education-based scholarship and media.



Privatization; Water; Neoliberalism; Curriculum; Environmental Education; Corporate Curriculum; Natural Resources Education; Curriculum Materials

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ISSN 1920-4175 Critical Education