University of Minnesota to host “Experiments on Rivers: The Consequence of Dams”

Conference will examine the effects, both intended and unintended, of dams in the Midwest and across the world

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Todd Reubold, Institute on the Environment,, (612) 624-6140
Susannah Smith, Institute for Advanced Study,, (612) 626-5054
Jeff Falk, University News Service,, (612) 626-1720

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (10/21/2010) – The University of Minnesota will host a major conference on dams – “Experiments on Rivers: The Consequence of Dams” – from November 11-12, 2010 at the Nolte Center on the Twin Cities campus and in the auditorium of the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory near downtown Minneapolis.

The goal of the conference is to develop a research and policy agenda around the long-term future of dams and other large-scale engineered structures in rivers.  Conference attendees will be encouraged to think broadly about the consequences of dams on human and natural ecosystems and begin to raise questions about the steps that might be necessary if we consider removal of dams. 

The conference will begin with a keynote by Christopher Sneddon, professor of Environmental Studies and Geography at Dartmouth College, titled “Concrete Revolution: Cold War Geopolitics and the Proliferation of Large Dams, 1933-1975”.  Dr. Sneddon’s research focuses on the political ecology of river basin development, primarily in Southeast Asia. The talk will take place at 4:00 p.m. on November 11 in 125 Nolte Center on the Minneapolis campus.

Day two of the conference cover issues of dams and rivers from a variety of scales and perspectives including governance and human rights in the Global South; dams as part of water rights and sovereignty issues for American Indians; the hydrological impacts of dam removal; dams and culture; and more.

“The conference is a great opportunity for policymakers, academics, social and natural scientists and others to understand that multiple impacts of dams on river communities,” said Pat Nunnally, coordinator of the River Life program at the Institute on the Environment.

A pre-conference talk by Dr. Gordon Grant, USDA Forest Service research hydrologist, will focus on a case study of dam removal. This public talk is scheduled for November 10 at 5:30PM and is part of the Research at the Red Stag series presented by the National Center for Earth-Surface Dynamics (NCED), an NSF Science and Technology Center in partnership with the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering.

“Experiments on Rivers: The Consequence of Dams” is part of the University Symposium on Abundance and Scarcity and is cosponsored by the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change (ICDC), the River Life Program of the Institute on the Environment, and the College of Science and Engineering's St. Anthony Falls Laboratory with support from the University’s Office of the Vice President of Research,  the Office of International Programs' Global Spotlight, and NCED.

The conference is free and open to the public, however, space is limited and pre-registration is advised. Box lunches will be available for conference attendees who register by November 9. You may register by contacting the Institute for Advanced Study at or 612-626-5054.

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