Session Features Scholars of Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Water Management and Culture

The EOS Project, the Program in Environmental and Sustainability Studies, and the History of Art Department cosponsored a brainstorming session, Mater and Matrix: Water in Diachronic and Interdisciplinary Perspective, on November 18 in Cohen Memorial Hall. Scholars of ancient, medieval, and modern water management and culture, including HART Professors and EOS Fellows Betsey Robinson and Tracy Miller, compared approaches, evidence, successes, and pitfalls.

“Humanists and scientists, we are united by research interests in how water bodies and hydrological processes are affected by human activity and, in turn, how changing conditions impact society,” said Robinson, Chancellor Faculty Fellow and associate professor of history of art. “We explore the power and possibilities of interdisciplinary collaboration across time, around the world, and in diverse fields, from archaeology and art history to sociology and engineering.”

In addition to Robinson and Miller, other participants included Sophie Bouffier, professeur d’histoire greque occidentale, Aix-Marseille University, Aix-en-Provence, France; and from Vanderbilt—Jonathan Gilligan, associate professor of earth and environmental studies and associate director for research, Vanderbilt Climate Change Research Network; David Hess, professor of sociology and director of Program on Environmental and Sustainability Studies; and George Hornberger, professor of earth and environmental studies and director of Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment.

Life was born in water and is carrying on in water. Water is life’s mater and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.
–Albert Szent-Györgyi, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 14 (1971) 239

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