Water in the West: Toward Convergent Solutions to Water Security

Micah Chang's picture
January 24, 2022
Montana, United States
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Environmental History / Studies, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Humanities, Native American History / Studies


Interdisciplinary Regional Workshop

Water in the West: Toward Convergent Solutions to Water Security

Sponsored by the Center for Science, Technology, Ethics & Society, the Montana Water Center, and the Ivan Doig Center for the Study of the Lands and Peoples of the North American West at

Montana State University

May 24-26th, 2022

Bozeman, MT


Workshop Description

Water is the life blood of the North American West.  We depend on it to produce our food, to power and supply our homes, to fuel our industries, and to sustain the wildlife and natural ecosystems that we cherish.  Yet this vital resource is facing increasing threats from climate change, population growth, and various contaminants.  Northern Rockies and Plains States are already seeing increased early spring flooding and late summer drought and it is vital that we prepare our communities to be resilient against these changes. 


These threats are complex and interactive. Solutions will require integrating knowledge from a variety of physical and natural sciences (e.g., hydrology, ecology, agriculture, forestry, chemistry, environmental science, biology and health), with traditional ecological knowledge and knowledge of the social, historical, cultural, political, and economic variables that compound the challenges we face, along with the development of technological innovations (e.g., from optics, materials science, artificial intelligence, environmental, chemical, and biological engineering).  Moreover, ensuring that the research translates into genuine social benefits requires collaboration with communities, tribes, government agencies, non-profit, health, business and industry organizations, policymakers, and activists. 


In other words, real solutions will require what the National Science Foundation has referred to as convergent research or collaborative transdisciplinary research for social benefit

  • What exactly is convergent research and how is it best achieved? 
  • What are the challenges of doing such collaborative work and how are they overcome? 
  • What would convergent research for protecting our water systems (lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and snowpack) look like? 

These are the central questions of this two-and-a-half-day workshop. 


The workshop format will include interactive facilitated sessions, lightning talks by participants, keynote speakers and public events.  Panelists will include experts on convergent research as well as scientists who participated in the Montana Climate Assessment.  Keynote speakers will include John Doyle (Crow Tribal member with 35 years of experience working on water and health issues for Crow Reservation) and Dr. Faith Kearns (California Water Institute, UC Berkeley).  Additional public events will include an outdoor performance event entitled “Walking the Water Way,” presented by Montana InSite Theatre and a screening of Life in the Landscape: Stories of Collaboration and Community Within Montana, four short documentaries about human-ecosystem interactions in four different communities across Montana.  We hope you will consider joining us in Bozeman, Montana, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and about 80 miles from Yellowstone National Park.

The goals of this workshop are:

  1. To develop a model for convergent research between physical and natural scientists, social scientists, humanists, engineers, and non-academic stakeholders for protecting water in our region.
  2. To identify the environmental and social threats to our water systems and key gaps in knowledge that would be required to address them.
  3. To create a network of diverse researchers, scholars, and community partners across our region committed to protecting water and build capacity for transdisciplinary and multi-partner convergent research. 


Expected outcomes:

  • Development of new collaborations across our region to protect water security and better meet needs of communities.
  • Strategies for successful convergent research and ideas for addressing current gaps in knowledge that would help protect water in our region.
  • Possible special journal issue on one or more themes developed by participants. 


Support for Participants:  Participants will receive a $500 honorarium to help off-set any travel associated costs.  


Who should apply:

We are particularly interested in participants who are conducting research, scholarship, activism, or creative activities related to water security in our region (broadly construed) and participants from diverse perspectives, including:

  • natural and physical sciences,
  • traditional ecological knowledge (TEK),
  • social sciences,
  • humanities,
  • engineering, and
  • the arts.

Those who may focus on:

  • biological, ecological, or chemical analyses of water (or threats to water)
  • the history of water,
  • cultural meanings of water,
  • how to understand “water security,”
  • indigenous water issues
  • health-related concerns about water,
  • the relationships between water and food systems or energy, 
  • science or environmental risk communication
  • water policy and law, and
  • engineering technological solutions for water security

are all encouraged to apply!


Please apply to at:  http://www.montana.edu/stes/regional-workshop.html.  We will ask you for some biographical information, as well as a short paragraph on why you are interested in participating.  We also encourage applicants to give a brief lightning talk about their work or interests related to the themes of the conference.  To propose a lightning talk, submit a tentative title and a 150-word abstract or description of what you intend to discuss.  Deadline for applications is Monday, January 24th and notifications of acceptance will occur by Friday, February 11th

Contact Info: 

For questions please contact micahchang@montana.edu

Contact Email: