The Colorado River: Science, History, Literature, Policy

Karl Flessa
Thursdays 2 PM - 4 PM
January 25, February 1, 8, 15, and 22, 2024
Watch the video to learn more about this course

The Colorado River: Science, History, Literature, Policy

Spring 2024
In Session
2 PM - 4 PM
January 25, February 1, 8, 15, and 22, 2024

Course Format: 



Main Campus



One hundred and one years since the signing of the Colorado River Compact, 24 years into a mega-drought, and two years away from new guidelines on sharing the waters, it’s time to take a close look at the past, present, and future of the Colorado River. Where does the water come from, and where does it go? What are the effects of climate change on the river? Whose priorities - tribes, nature, farms, cities, states, countries - supersede the others? Who decides? In this course we will examine all of these important questions and more.

This course is an updated version of one first offered by the Humanities Seminars Program in Spring 2023.  New or expanded content for 2024 includes Tribal rights and priority, the groundwater connection in Arizona, the river-runners from Powell to today, and developing the new rules for the river. 

Meet Your Professor

Professor Emeritus
Department of Geosciences

Karl Flessa is Professor Emeritus of Geosciences at the University of Arizona.  He has been studying the conservation biology of the Colorado River’s delta since 1992, and is a founding member of the Colorado River Research Group.  Since the delta “pulse flow” of 2014, he has been managing the binational science team that monitors the biological and hydrologic effects of restoration flows.


  • All classes will be delivered on-campus and online via live video streaming. Students will enroll in their preferred format during registration.
  • On-Campus classes will be held in the Rubel Room at the University of Arizona's Poetry Center (1508 E Helen St, Tucson, AZ 85721). Enrollment for in-person classes is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. All students enrolled to attend in person also have complete online access and may choose to attend one or all class sessions remotely if desired.
  • Online students may attend all classes via live video streaming and will be able to participate in all course Q&A sessions with the professor in real-time. A high-speed internet connection and a device capable of running Zoom are required to connect. Online access will be password protected and only available to enrolled students.
  • Class Recordings - All HSP classes are recorded and available for every enrolled student to watch for the duration of the course and one month after the last class session. This option is offered to aid students who cannot attend the live class times but desire to enroll and participate asynchronously. We hope this option also aids students who are traveling or have a necessary appointment that conflicts with a class session to stay connected and engaged with the course material.


Poetry Center
Dorothy Rubel Room
1508 E Helen
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States
Located on the SE corner of Helen Street and Vine Avenue, one block north of Speedway and three blocks west of Campbell Ave.

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