Water and Socio-Environmental Challenges
The major thread of this 2017 Social Sciences Winter School will be to address issues at the interface between society and environment, especially around water and resource management, through the lens of the social sciences, in different milieus and scale of interpretation, and with different thematic focus and methodological frameworks.Most research in social sciences has historically focused on social, political, cultural and economic systems somewhat in isolation from their biophysical surroundings, the environment being considered as merely a backdrop for social actions and the functioning of social systems. However, it is now widely recognised that human societies cannot be understood without analysing their interactions with the environments that supported them; as it is also widely understood that most terrestrial and near-shore environments have been and are profoundly shaped by human actions and policies.Indeed, the past five decades or so have seen the traditional nature/culture divide being increasingly challenged on the conceptual and analytical ground of various field disciplines. Along with the growing awareness of the ecological and social challenges facing society and all life on earth, the study of socio-environmental issues has become of major concern to a wide research community of both scholars and practitioners from various disciplines, so that we now refer to “environmental social sciences”.Themes and scientific questionings and approaches to explore the complex relationships between society and environment are many and call for interdisciplinary thinking. Any socioenvironmental issue – around resource perception, use, management, politics, appropriation, water access, sustainability, depletion, environmental inequalities and injustices, health and sanitation, cultural landscapes, land use and land changes, vulnerabilities to environmental hazards and changes, social construction of knowledge on the environment, and so on – can be studied from a multiplicity of angles and disciplines. Data and information can be extracted and produced from various areas and fields. Approaches are heterogeneous, qualitative and quantitative, combining localised and multi-sited research, diachronic and synchronic perspectives, and statistical, discursive or spatial analyses. There is no single methodological nor theoretical framework.This year, the objectives of the SSWSP is to expose students and young researchers to research frontiers in this field of environmental social sciences.Following the framework of the past editions, the SSWSP will be organised according to three complementary axes:
(a) Plenary sessions at the beginning of the school: three presentations will introduce different thematic and methodological research of environmental social sciences.
(b) Three thematic workshops lasting four days: issues related to social needs/experience in sanitation (workshop 1), resources appropriation (workshop 2), the use of spatial technologies as a research tool (workshop 3), will be addressed from various cross-cutting angles.
(c) Restitution, discussions, exchanges: participants of each workshop will work on a research design as a group based on the four days of training and make their presentation.