European Science Foundation Junior Summit “Water: Unite and Divide. Interdisciplinary approaches for a sustainable future,” Stresa, Italy, 27-31 August, 2012

The Junior Summit “Water: Unite and Divide. Interdisciplinary approaches for a sustainable future” was convened by the European Science Foundation (ESF) in Stresa, Italy,, on 27-31 August, 2012 .  Its aim was to invite young researchers from all academic fields to discuss about the challenges and opportunities posed by interdisciplinary research, which is becoming increasingly important in the study of complex problems.  

The Summit was supported by four ESF Standing Committees, including Humanities; Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences; Physical and Engineering Sciences and Social Sciences. It was attended by 34 participants from 14 countries and 11 invited speakers from 8 countries. AIDA member Monica Cardillo (Italy), PhD student in History of Colonial Law at the University of Montpellier, delivered a speech by the title “The water issue between European law and African custom in the 20th century”, which dealt with the birth and development of overseas water law during the Second French colonization and the role and influence of colonial technical experts in this respect. Ms Cardillo observed that water resources legislation is effective when it addresses the real needs of societies, rather than the political and expansion needs of colonial powers. In the latter case it is likely to create social problems and conflicts.

The main objective of the Junior Summit was to enhance awareness of the need to bridge gaps between disciplines and research domains and contribute to the creation of conceptual frameworks for promoting understanding and respect across disciplines and methodologies. The Summit was a success, in that it facilitated interaction and the exchange of experiences among early career researchers.

The outcome of the Summit will be one or more review-type article(s), produced by a writing group composed of five participants in the Summit, including Ms Cardillo. The article(s) will highlight the lessons learned during the Summit, and offer recommendations for any future initiatives of this type. Before the drafting and publication of the article, a writing workshop will be organized in the Wadham College of Oxford, on 17-20 September, 2012.