2011-2012 Theme: Water
The COE Think Tank for 2011-12 is examing the ways in which the human relationship to water, as both resource and environment, has changed over the long term. In the context of fresh water, it is questioning the relationships between past patterns of water use and water management and present patterns of water use and management. By extension, the think tank is considering the ways in which understanding the evolution of those patterns help us to formulate better ideas of how the world's water can or should be used in the future to meet the needs of humanity in the face of shrinking fresh water resources. In terms of salt water ecosystems, related questions emerge: how have societies evolved in the context of marine environments; what social, cultural, economic, and political factors influence the exploitation and conservation of marine resources (most notably, fisheries and their habitats); how do the evoloution of water-based transport technologies and public policy debates inform as well as reveal human perceptions of the oceans and the values we associate with them?