After spending many years working in international development and humanitarian assistance, as well as in international social and environmental education, and anthropological field research, Creighton Peet joined WPI in 2000 as part of its Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division. He loves teaching at WPI and sharing what he has learned over the years through its project-based curriculum. This style of teaching is a way of learning for him, directly and indirectly, and it satisfies his own research interests in the sustainable management of natural resources, especially water.
This kind of teaching is also beneficial for his students helping them to achieve major intellectual and personal growth. Many students have never been out of New England, and suddenly they are dropped into places like Namibia, South Africa, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Puerto Rico to immerse themselves in the location's culture and society, in addition to trying to solve a real-world problem, often an environmental one. Students not only carry out important and meaningful research, but they also gain an entirely new outlook on the world.
The culture at WPI also allows Peet to continue his own research interests in how to sustainably manage water and other natural resources through many of the projects he mentors. He has collaborated with the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN) on projects to explore how Namibia's many ephemeral river basins can be better managed by the people living in them, with support from the government and nongovernmental organizations as well. He has chosen water as the natural resource to focus on, not only because it is the foundation for all life, but also because it is often overlooked and underappreciated. He has also mentored students to carry out research on these same problems in Massachusetts' own watersheds. It is exciting for him to see a growing awareness among students and others about how important managing water properly is.