Bergen Summer Research School
BSRS 2016: Terje Tvedt

Water and Society: A need for a paradigm shift?

Tyssedal power plant
Tyssedal power plant, Norway.

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Terje Tvedt
University of Bergen

Watch the keynote

Presentation (pdf)

This keynote addresses a major paradox: in spite of the innumerable confluences between society and water, the social significance of water has made surprisingly little impact on our contemporary understanding of human history and societies’ development.

New discoveries about our “water planet”, as well as recent developments in society and nature and the growing concern about water shortages and water conflicts, demand a shift in how we think not only about water, but about the world. It requires a reorientation of perspectives and analytical approaches in science and historical research.

This keynote, acknowledging the growing interest in the role of water in history and social development among engineers, scientists, sociologists and historians, politicians, and the public at large, will discuss radically new fields of social enquiry. It distances itself from powerful and conventional viewpoints on the relationship between nature and society and on how the distinction between the two has been drawn.

The keynote will discuss how a reorientation of research can happen, and proposes an approach that, it is argued, will enable us both to ask new and fruitful questions and answer old questions in a more inclusive, non-reductionist way.

This keynote is open to the public.