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Book launch Liz Sharp: Reconnecting People and Water

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Lecture Theatre A, John Pemberton Suite

Regents Court, 211 Portobello

The University of Sheffield

Sheffield

S1 4DP

United Kingdom

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Water management in developed countries has long been seen as a technical process associated with pipes, drains and bureaucracies. This technical model of water management is now being questioned. This book examines the nature of contemporary water management and the prospects for and barriers to different forms of engagement with the public.

In particular it shows how historical and social scientific understandings develop and question current water management norms in relation to water in the landscape, water in the home, and the hidden management of water beneath our streets and behind our walls. It is shown that the four-fold challenges of climate change, urbanization, changing environmental standards and fiscal accountability mean that we can no longer rely on unseen technical fixes to erase the threats of pollution, water shortages and floods. Such concerns offer two prompts for public engagement and participation. First, on a purely instrumental level, public engagement can complement, or offer an obvious alternative to, technical fixes. Secondly, public engagement may provide a route to find new ways of addressing water and related challenges.

The author offers a unique social science perspective on many of the socio-technical issues facing the management of water in urban settings in developed countries, where urban is interpreted broadly to include all areas served by piped water.

Drawing on historical context, an extensive review of the published literature, as well as the author's own empirical studies, the work prompts broader discussions about how we manage water in contemporary society.

Speakers:

  • Liz Sharp will speak about the motivation for writing ‘Reconnecting People and Water’ and the changes she hopes that the book will bring.
  • David Butler will speak about the book from an engineering perspective, reflecting on how Reconnecting People and Water has the potential to impact on the learning and practice of water engineering.
  • Alison Browne will reflect on the implications and challenges that Reconnecting People and Water poses for social science research.

Speaker Biographies

Dr. Liz Sharp (author): Liz Sharp is a senior lecturer in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at Sheffield University. Liz Sharp’s research focuses on the governance of the environment, and specifically the processes through which the public are engaged (or not) in making and implementing policy on water. Utilising collaborative and interpretive approaches, her work examines water policies and practices for water supply and demand, water quality and flood risk management. Because she has frequently researched in collaboration with academic and practicing engineers, she has also written about the role of interpretive social science in supporting transformative change within fields previously dominated by technical sciences.

Professor David Butler: David Butler. David is Professor of Water Engineering at the University of Exeter and has over 30 years’ experience as an internationally-leading researcher, teacher and consultant in the water sector. He specialises in urban water management, including sustainable and resilient water systems, integration and control and water-energy-carbon interactions. David has authored / co-authored some 300 published papers, in addition to 12 books, published best practice guides and edited conference proceedings. He is co-editor-in-chief of the Urban Water Journal and editor-in-chief (water) of Global Challenges.

Dr. Alison Browne: Alison Browne is a Lecturer in Human Geography and the Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI) at The University of Manchester. Her research primarily focuses on the social, performative and material dynamics of everyday life related to water, energy, and food. In a mixed methodological and transdisciplinary she examines ideas of how such practices come to be disrupted, changed and governed. Although her previous work has concentrated on these issues in Australia and Europe, she has a developing interest in everyday practices in south east Asia.

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Location

Lecture Theatre A, John Pemberton Suite

Regents Court, 211 Portobello

The University of Sheffield

Sheffield

S1 4DP

United Kingdom

View Map

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