Water problems are complex because they cross physical, disciplinary and jurisdictional boundaries. Water, viewed as a fixed resource, lends itself to conflicts over its division.

Origins of most water problems may be understood as intricate coupling among natural, societal, and political domains where people and problems interact to shape the framing of the problem. The search for scientific bases, without understanding the societal issues and driving values, to address water issues make these problems complex because the underlying policy issues cannot be definitively described or separated from political context. A synthesis of explicit (scientific water information from natural domain) and tacit (contextual water information from societal domain) knowledge of water is needed to transform fixed water quantity into a flexible resource.

The Water Diplomacy program at Tufts University is producing interdisciplinary water professionals who think across boundaries, emphasize integration of explicit and tacit knowledge, link knowledge and action from multiple perspectives to help resolve water issues through mutual gains negotiations.