Healing the Enlightenment Rift: Rationality, Spirituality, and Shared Waters


2 March 2017 | Irvine, CA

University of California, Irvine


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Water management is, by definition, conflict management: whether in the Western US or internationally, competing stakeholder interests include domestic users, agriculturalists, hydropower generators, recreators, and environmentalists – any two of which are regularly at odds, and the complexity of finding mutually acceptable solutions increases exponentially as more stakeholders are involved.  Add international boundaries, and the difficulty grows substantially yet again. While press reports of shared waters often focus on conflict, what has been more encouraging is that, throughout the world, water also induces cooperation, even in particularly hostile basins, and even as disputes rage over other issues.  This has been true from the Jordan (Arabs and Israelis) to the Indus (Indians and Pakistanis) to the Kura-Araks (Georgians, Armenians, and Azeris), and even here in the US.


One pressing question is how countries and users that share a basin cooperate on water, even when they will not cooperate over other issues?  Here is a resource on which we all depend, which fluctuates wildly in space and time, and for which there is little guidance in international law.  By any quantitative measure, water should be the most conflictive of resources, not an elixir that drives enemies to craft functioning and resilient institutional arrangements. This presentation will discuss conflict and cooperation over shared water resources internationally and in the US West, and reflect on processes of conflict transformation, including lessons from both Western and spiritual models of dialogue.


Organizer: UC Irvine


When: 2 March 2017, 5:30-8PM (PST)



UC Irvine
Calit2 Administration
4100 Calit2 Building
Irvine, CA 92697


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