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Institute of Advanced Study

Water and Risk Workshop

12-14 January 2010

Geography Department, Durham University

Water, and the risks that are embodied within in it and created by it, will be one of the fundamental crises of the 21st Century. Water has a tradition of being a substance that can be stored, moved, treated and, in essence, controlled. This tradition sees water as something that is passive, to be managed, rather than something that is an active and, ultimately, transformative force, leaving a dynamic and not always predictable footprint. Our engagement with water, and the risks that surround it, could be a means of rethinking through the broader relations between environment and society. However, realising such an ambition is limited by the ways in which particular sorts of knowledge are brought to bear upon the water environment; practices that admit certain sorts of knowledge and excludes others.  So how do we know whose knowledge of managing water-based risks counts?

This international workshop centres on the interrelated themes of vulnerability and risk and is driven by a desire to spark an original and thought-provoking discussion amongst a wide range of participants. The event will involve people connected by issues of water risk but who often work separately, including scientists, engineers, social scientists, policy makers and non-governmental agencies.  The output from the workshop will be an edited book of use to physical and social scientists, engineers and policy makers. This workshop will bring together world leaders in different aspects of water and risk to give a series of keynote talks. This unique combination of experts will be able to produce innovative and widely applicable approaches to resolving water risk issues. These keynote speakers will be complimented by talks and discussion from other people who deal with water related risks.

Speakers at this workshop include Professor Tony Allan (King's College London, UK), Professor Keith Beven (Lancaster University), Professor Wiebe Bijker (Universteit Maastricht), Professor Susan Cutter (University of South Carolina), Professor Malin Falkenmark (Stockholm Resilience Centre), Professor Valérie November (EPF Lausanne, Switzerland), Professor Bruce Mitchell (University of Waterloo, Canada) and Professor Erik Swyngedouw (University of Manchester).

This workshop is limited to a small number of participants to enable effective discussion and exchange of ideas. For details of how to register please visit the Water and Risk workshop website. Videos of the keynote presentations will be available on the website after the workshop.