Delta State University

SOC 422/522 COD 522

Spring Semester 2004


Study Questions, Week 12


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Topics for the Week:

Air & Water: Flood Control on the Mississippi River

Readings for the Week:

John McPhee. 1989. The Control of Nature. New York: Farrar, Staus and Giroux. pp. 3–92.


(1) Why has the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers undertaken the task of controlling the course of the Mississippi River? What actions have they taken to do so?

(2) What are some problems the Corps and others have encountered in trying to control the Mississippi? What lessons can be derived from these problems?

(3) What social and environmental changes have efforts to control the Mississippi brought about? Have these efforts increased people’s well-being and security, or have they put people in greater danger?

(4) What are the different stakeholder groups that McPhee identifies? How has each group been affected by the efforts to engineer the river? How has each group participated in the process?

(5) Do you think humans ultimately will be successful in controlling the Mississippi River? Is this an example of sustainable development?