This project supports participation of three foreign experts in a meeting: Water Diplomacy Workshop, Strengthening Science and Enhancing International Partnership in a Globalized World scheduled to be held in Medford, MA June 13-17, 2011. The workshop is organized by Dr. Shafiqul Islam, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Tufts University, with participation by faculty from MIT and Harvard University. The objective of the three-day workshop is to bring experts in water issues in the physical sciences (e.g. civil and environmental engineering and geological scienes), with experts in water issues in social and economic sciences (e.g. economics, sociology, anthropology, political science) to identify issues and solutions that can be provided to decision-makers. A major objective is to facilitate and encourage collaborations between researchers in physical sciences and in social sciences in identifying solutions to problems of water resources and use in the US and other countries. The foreign participants will be from Egypt, Sudan and Pakistan, countries with significant water- related border disputes.

Intellectual Merit: The workshop has two main goals: (a) to integrate knowledge about science, policy, and politics to formulate and frame questions about water network management; and (b) to generate actionable knowledge that will help stakeholders and decision-makers negotiate solutions to water management problems. It is hoped that participants will engage in real-world problem-solving, through domestic and international partnerships, as a way of merging theory and practice.

Broader impacts: The workshop is to help a Water Diplomacy initiative started at Tufts University, aimed at preparing a new cadre of interdisciplinary water professionals who are not only scholars with strong disciplinary grounding but also problem-solvers with interdisciplinary expertise and negotiation skills. The proposed workshop (WDW) will show members of the growing informal network of water professionals how to present what they learn to groups and organizations back in their communities. Spreading this actionable knowledge and helping as many people as possible is essential to addressing the world?s water problems. The diversity of the national and international participants involved will ensure that people with different backgrounds and viewpoints will be engaged. Such sharing of knowledge is critical to solving boundary crossing water problems in a globalized world. The format of the workshop will allow US scientists an opportunity to build collaborative partnerships that are not attainable within the typical international workshop format.

Project Report

A key objective of the Water Diplomacy Workshop (WDW) 2011 was to build long-term intellectual and professional ties between US and international water professionals. The WDW - part of a broader Water Diplomacy initiative ( - is aimed at preparing a new cadre of reflective water professionals who are not only scholars with strong disciplinary grounding but also problem-solvers with interdisciplinary expertise and negotiation skills. The WDW 2011 brought 32 participants from 17 countries together to explore a new approach to managing shared water resources. The WDW 2011 was held at the Medford Campus of Tufts University on June 13-17, 2011. We used NSF funds to support three senior water professionals – one each from Egypt, Sudan, and Pakistan so that they could participate in the WDW train-the-trainer program. This five-day joint-learning experience helps participants master important concepts and teaching strategies that combine the science of water management with the negotiation methodologies and the tools required for collaborative adaptive management. These concepts and interactions are not usually covered in either the academic or professional training that water professionals receive in most countries. Interactive lectures, problem-solving clinics, and role-play simulations helped the WDW participants learn the techniques and strategies presented in the Water Diplomacy Workbook, and prepared them to teach similar curriculum in their own countries. The WDW 2011 coached participants in how to present what they learned to groups and organizations back in their home organizations and communities. Spreading this knowledge and helping as many people as possible enhance their water management skills, rather than reserving what can only be shown to those who can come to Boston, is essential to developing a global network of reflective water professionals. In the year following the 2011 WDW, the participants nominated still additional professionals to participate in WDW 2012. The diversity of the national and international participants involved in both 2011 and 2012 – over 60 participants from 27 countries - ensured that people with very different backgrounds and viewpoints are ready to engage in real-world water problem-solving. Growing interactions and connections among the WDW participants have already started to generate new collaborative efforts. We are trying to foster this spirit of collaboration by engaging all the participants in a web-based forum on the WDW web site. We also created a "private forum" for the participants of WDW. This secured "private forum" is currently used as a virtual space to share knowledge and experience. It also enables workshop participants to download all the materials they have used during the workshop so they have them easily accessible to "train" other water professionals in their institutions and communities.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Office of International and Integrative Activities (IIA)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Osman Shinaishin
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Tufts University
United States
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