September 2022

4:00 - 5:30 PM

Online Via Zoom


The Story Of Water: How This Shapeless Substance Has Shaped Society

The Conversation Series

Dr Giulio Boccaletti

Honorary Research Associate, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, Oxford University
Senior Fellow, Euro-Mediterranean Center for Climate Change, Italy
Former Chief Strategy Officer and Global Ambassador for Water, Nature Conservancy

Saptam Patel

Amrut Mody School of Management
Ahmedabad University

Water is the ultimate public good – a moving, formless substance that defies private ownership, is hard to contain, and requires collective management. Our planet is habitable because of water – in the sea, on land, in the air. The most important trends that shaped human civilisation were built around water – agriculture, demographics, industrialisation, and the birth of social & political institutions. 

The roots of modern society’s relationship with water go far back in time. The rise of the modern civilisation is linked to the central role water has had in society. Humanity's long, complicated relationship with water still shapes today's politics and economics, behind the illusions of technological modernity. Below the visible surface of a society that believes itself separated from nature, the undercurrents of water's agency still flow as powerful as ever.

Our speaker, a physicist, climate scientist, and global ambassador for water, will tell us how humanity's relationship to moving water has shaped civilisation, transformed political institutions, and defined people's lives. He will provide an interdisciplinary perspective by bringing cosmology, mythology, archaeology, and history to illustrate how human civilisation is shaped by water.


Dr Giulio Boccaletti

A physicist, climate scientist, and global ambassador for water, Giulio Boccaletti is co-founder of Chloris Geospatial, a tech startup dedicated to innovative measurements of natural capital. He worked on climate dynamics and physical oceanography at Bologna University, Princeton University, where he was a NASA Earth Systems Science Fellow, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At McKinsey & Company, he was one of the leaders of its Sustainability and Resource Productivity practice and the co-founder of its Water practice. The World Economic Forum nominated him as a Young Global Leader in 2014. He is an Honorary Research Associate of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University. His book Water: A Biography, a history of the relationship between society and water, was rated as one of the best books of 2021 by The Economist.


Saptam Patel

Saptam Patel, Assistant Professor at the Amrut Mody School of Management, has been teaching in Communication since 1999. She graduated from St Xavier's College, Ahmedabad, and earned her MPhil, and PhD from the School of Languages, Gujarat University, Ahmedabad. Professor Patel has been teaching courses on business communication, the art of persuasion, and gender for 17 years. Her research area is multidisciplinary as she has been working on literature in English, gender, fine arts, and women's writing.