The workshop will be held June 11-14th, 2018 at the Santa Fe Institute, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Transportation, lodging, and most meals will be provided for workshop participants.  


The importance of water to all human activities has driven institutional innovations throughout history, from Balinese water temple networks to Hohokam irrigation canals and modern interstate water compacts. These water-related innovations have in turn driven research innovations in economics, engineering, political science and geography.  

Humans have had such a large influence on our environment that it is no longer reasonable to consider the behavior of a water system from a purely ‘physical’ perspective: imagining a system that excludes the influence of human choices and behavior. While this fact is now widely recognized across the many academic fields that study water systems, we have yet to develop a coherent set of theories for how to model the behavior of these complex and highly coupled socio-hydrological systems. The question guiding this workshop is: how should we conceptualize hydrological systems as socio-ecological systems within which the rigorous study of feedbacks becomes possible?


In order to accomplish the workshop’s twin goals of integrating the understanding of water systems that has been developed in different academic disciplines and identifying opportunities for empirical progress, those researchers need substantial conversational time to develop a shared language and shared understanding of the utility of different methods and theoretical perspectives. To facilitate this conversational interaction, the bulk of the workshop will be held through ‘research jams’ rather than more traditional 15 minute research talks.  In addition to the research jams, each day of the workshop will include panel discussions organized around identifying some of the most important questions this field can address, both methodological and theoretical.

We hope that by combining small group discussion time on projects that researchers are actively pushing forward with full group panel discussions focused on identifying collective goals for the field, this workshop will allow scientists at all career stages to consider the way that their own work has and will contribute to those broader goals. Scientists don’t often have the opportunity to, in a friendly atmosphere, constructively and critically evaluate their own work in light of ambitious collective goals for their field and society at large. We will craft this workshop so that it can serve that purpose.

What is a Research Jam?

Research Jams are an idea developed within the SFI postdoc community that we have found to be an effective way of facilitating collaborative and intellectually engaged discussions among peers about early stage research. In a 60-90 minutes long session, one person presents a current draft or topic of interest to get feedback from peers on a research idea or problem that could use some suggestions or brainstorming. The format is simple: gather together a group of peers and discuss an early-to-mid-stage research idea with a whiteboard. Slides are more or less prohibited. The tone of research jams is collaborative, constructive and fun. The point is not to show off esoteric field- specific vocabulary and research brilliance, but rather to team up to diversify and cross-pollinate ideas.