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Art, Science, & the Thirsty World

Monday, June 30, 2014 -
9:00am to 5:30pm
Radcliffe Humanities

Please click here for the conference programme.

This innovative one-day interdisciplinary conference brings together graduate students from across continents and disciplines. It proposes a critical exploration of interdisciplinary practice through collaborative presentations and performances, while facilitating dialogue between researchers and practitioners in the arts and environmental sciences in order to foster creative, innovative and trans-disciplinary discussions about water scarcity solutions.

What and where is the art and environmental science nexus and how is it relevant? In what way can we leverage these diverse ways of knowing and engaging to cooperatively address the water crisis?

Twelve students at Oxford and Cornell University in faculties of the arts, environmental sciences and engineering, have been put into teams and are currently developing material to present creative collaborative projects at the conferences on the 30th of June in Oxford and on the 7th and 8th of November at Cornell University.  Practitioners and researchers in the fine arts, poetry, photography, music composition and performance, will collaborate with environmental science and engineering colleagues to explore and present their work on key thematic areas of water scarcity in sectors such as agricultural food production, industry or local management and use. Students will draw from their experience working across the world in Asia, Europe, North America, Africa and elsewhere.

Technological solutions to water-crisis issues have outrun the mechanisms for change in the political and cultural spheres and increasingly interdisciplinary work is being done to engage social scientists in seeking culturally sensitive solutions. In particular the University of Oxford, through the Oxford Water Network, has fostered interdisciplinary approaches to water scarcity concerns. However, arts practitioners and researchers are rarely directly in dialogue with environmental and social scientists, even though arts practices are embedded in the fabrics of diverse cultures and play important roles in expressing and shaping identities, beliefs and values with regard to water. Holistic approaches to water-scarcity issues which synthesise cultural and scientific understandings are essential if solutions are to be sustainable. The humanities, through a nuanced and sensitive privileging of the cultural voices of specific areas affected by water scarcity, are able to make a significant contribution to these solutions.

Organizers hope this will be the beginning of future collaborative relationships across universities to address pertinent and urgent management responses needed in the 21st century.  

Registration for the Oxford conference is now open. Registration is free but spaces are limited. Register by 16 June to secure a place and a free conference lunch! Email Cayenna Ponchione at to register.     

Photo by Jessica Thorn.

The graduate conference exchange project supported by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), Merton College, Cornell’s Institute for European Studies and the Brettschneider Fund (Cornell University).





















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