Middlebury

Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs to host "Politics of Freshwater" conference

March 8, 2013

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – “The Politics of Freshwater: Access and Identity in a Changing Environment” will be the subject of a three-day, interdisciplinary conference at Middlebury College, March 14-16.

Sponsored by the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs, the conference brings together scholars from Dartmouth, Oberlin, Colgate, Wellesley, Universidad de la Rioja (Spain) and other national and international institutions, in addition to faculty and students from Middlebury College, the C.V. Starr Middlebury Schools Abroad and the Monterey Institute of International Studies. 

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Professor of Geography Tamar Mayer, the director of the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs, said the politics of freshwater was selected as the topic because "the world is on the brink of an unprecedented water crisis. All countries must secure water sources or they will not be able to feed their growing population, support their industries and facilitate the creation of the middle class."

She continued: "Reliability on, and access, to water – for drinking, agriculture, even transportation – have become much more difficult to attain, either because of global climate change, growing population, urbanization, industrialization or water management projects.

"Who has access to water, when, where and why are important questions that signify that at every geographical scale, from the local to the global, politics is associated with access to fresh water. Without addressing these issues, security at every scale is at risk."  

The pre-conference events are:

– “Working on Water: Student and Faculty Perspectives on Researching Water Issues,” a panel discussion on Tuesday, March 12, at 4:30 p.m. in Hillcrest 103

– “Tierra de Agua: Filming Water Issues in Nicaragua,” a discussion with film clips led by students from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, on Wednesday, March 13, at 4:30 p.m. in the Robert A. Jones '59 House conference room.

– “Water, Trees, Life: A Global Perspective on Healing Our Hurting Planet,” with Roger Hoesterey of The Eden Projects on Wednesday, March 13, at 7 p.m. in the Robert A. Jones '59 House conference room.

The events on Thursday, March 14, are:

– A lecture by photographer Edward Burtynsky about his exhibit “Nature Transformed,” currently on display in the Middlebury College Museum, at 4:30 p.m. in Dana Auditorium.

– Professor Mayer, director of the Rohatyn Center, will deliver opening remarks for the conference at 6:30 p.m. in the Robert A. Jones '59 House conference room, followed by William J. Cosgrove of the International Institute from Applied Systems Analysis and Frank Magilligan of Dartmouth College. Cosgrove will speak on “An Equitable and Sustainable Water Future,” and Magilligan will discuss “The Era of Big Dam Building: It Ain’t Over Until It’s Over.” Professor Michael Sheridan of Middlebury will moderate the discussion; the student chair for the opening session is Gillian Lui '13. 

The events on Friday, March 15, are:

– A panel discussion on “Water Divided” at 12:15 p.m. in the Robert A. Jones '59 House conference room with Pushpa Iyer of the Monterey Institute of International Studies on “The Politics of Muddled Waters in Gujarat, India”; T.S. McMillin of Oberlin College on “When Is A River Not a River: Strange Waters in the Los Angeles Basin”; and Visiting Instructor Maria Woolson of Middlebury on “Rapa Nui and Canary Islands: A Political Ecology Approach to Understanding Water Governance.” Visiting Instructor Robert Greeley of Middlebury will moderate the panel; the student chair is Jaehyuk Lee '13. 

– A panel discussion on “Changing Water and Land Use” at 2:45 p.m. in the Robert A. Jones '59 House conference room with Jessica K. Graybill of Colgate University on “Resource Mobility and Flow in the Russian Far East”; Pinar Keskin of Wellesley College and Richard Hornbeck of Harvard University on “The Historically Evolving Impact of the Ogallala Aquifer”; and Michael Vincent McGinnis of the Monterey Institute of International Studies on “Creating Ecological Scarcity: New Zealand’s Water, Watersheds and Pastoral Heritage.” Executive in Residence Charles MacCormack of Middlebury will moderate the presentation; the student chair is Adrian Leong '16. 

-- A panel discussion on “Water Territories” at 4:30 p.m. in the Robert A. Jones '59 House conference room with Samer Alatout of the University of Wisconsin on “Water, Occupation and the Viability of the Two-State Option in Historic Palestine”; Chris Sneddon and Coleen Fox of Dartmouth College on “The New Politics of Mekong Hydro-Development”; and Eve Vogel of the University of Massachusetts on “Trans-Jurisdictional River Basin Governance.” Professor Dan Brayton of Middlebury will moderate the discussion; the student chair is Olivia Noble '13. 

The events on Saturday, March 16, are:

– A panel discussion on “Sustaining Multiple Uses of Water” at 9 a.m. in the Robert A. Jones '59 House conference room with Francisco Páez de la Cadena of the Universidad de la Rioja on “Can Gardens Teach Us How to Better Use Water?” Lina Abu-Ghunmi, Diana Abu-Ghunmi and Mariska Ronteltap of the University of Jordan in Amman on “Grey Water Concept Toward Mitigating Water Shortage”; and Visiting Assistant Professor Catherine M. Ashcraft of Middlebury on “Managing Conflict in International River Basins: The Danube and Nile Rivers.” Professor Robert Prasch will moderate the panel; the student chair is Nate Goldstone '13. 

– A panel discussion on “Access to Water and Resistance” at 10:45 a.m. in the Robert A. Jones '59 House conference room with Cynthia Bannon of Indiana University on “Ancient Roman Water Rights and Commons Theory”; Marcos F. Lopez of Middlebury College on “The Power of Water”; and Daniel Ryan and Andres Napoli of the Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales in Argentina on “Legal Mobilization and the Politics of Water Pollution.” Visiting Assistant Professor Kacy McKinney will moderate the conversation; the student chair is Morris Swaby Ebanks '13. 

– The conference will conclude with a summary session and discussion at 12:30 p.m. in the Robert A. Jones '59 House conference room.

The Politics of Freshwater Conference is co-sponsored by the Christian A. Johnson Economics Fund, C. V. Starr Middlebury Schools Abroad, Program in Environmental Studies, Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest, and the Departments of English and American Literatures, Classics, Geography and Political Science.

All of the events in the conference are free of charge and open to the public. More information is available at the conference website: http://sites.middlebury.edu/waterconference/.