Colorado Water Workshop



Jeff Sellen, Ph.D.  headshot
Professor of Environment & Sustainability, Director of Colorado Water Workshop
Phone: 970.943.3162
Office Location: Kelley Hall 107

Western Colorado University

Headwaters University of the American Southwest

Invites the Water Leaders of the Next Generation to the


Gunnison, Colo.

May 29-31, 2019


What are the Western Water Futures Games? 

Three intensive days of brainstorming, collaborating, and contending with future and current western water leaders over evolving water issues in serious need of new thinking and new ideas. We are encouraging undergraduate and graduate students from any fields of study, and recent graduates beginning to make your way in water-related professions, to put together a team to bring to Gunnison. Don’t have a team? Show up on May 29th and we’ll create teams on-site.

There will also be campfires. And music. And food.


Rather than the standard conference format of current leadership speaking to the future leadership, the Futures Games will give the future leadership a no-holds-barred opportunity to develop solutions in collaboration with the current leadership.

Where are the Futures Games? 

You will be in the headwaters of the Colorado River, one of the world’s most interesting rivers – and at this point, one of the most used and abused. Field trips into the river’s beauty and wonders will relieve the intensity of your efforts to address the river’s challenges – which are an extreme example of global challenges today.

Who Should Participate in the Futures Games?  

Are you both worried and intrigued by the converging challenges to human culture such as climate change, population growth, and resource depletion? Do you see potential answers to such challenges through more and better applied science? New or refined technological interventions? Human communications or other social/psychological interventions to change human behavior? Changes to legal institutions and political policies? Learning from other cultures? Answers to current challenges will come from many fields.

While no one strategy will do it all, there could be enough water in the future for all existing uses of the river if:
  • The ‘Law of the River’ bends to reflect new (and old) realities of the River, in ways that share the pain equitably among the users of the waters.
  • New and better technologies are applied to problems of storage, distribution and use of water.
  • Cities can be retrofitted to absorb water rather than shed it – as well as retrofitted to approach a carbon-free goal.
  • Agricultural users work out orderly transitions to appropriate arid-land production, and broaden their ‘products’ to include ecosystem services.
  • Cities develop massive and coordinated public education programs not only for water conservation but also for atmospheric carbon reduction.
That’s just to start you thinking; you may have even larger ideas.
Bring them to the Headwaters this spring.
The future might depend on it…


For more information, contact: Colorado Water Workshop Director Jeff Sellen at, 970.615.0729.