Understanding the relation between issues of flooding, water scarcity and ecosystem changes on the one side and human development on the other side requires a multidisciplinary perspective. The Twente Centre for Water Systems & Governance adopts such a multidisciplinary perspective in addressing broad research questions such as: how do societies interfere in the natural processes, how do changes in the natural systems in turn influence human development, how do societies respond and adapt to new problems and risks, and what is or could be the role of engineering solutions? More in particular, the Centre studies the institutional, social and economic mechanisms that contribute to problems of water scarcity, water quality and ecosystem deterioration and risks of flooding, the response of natural mechanisms to human interference, the impacts of water problems on societies and the mechanisms of human response.
The programme adopts a multi-theoretical framework, which combines physical and engineering knowledge, economic theories of rational choice and efficiency, ecological theories on carrying capacity, resilience, adaptation and ecological sustainability, social theories on attitudes towards resource use and risk handling and policy scientific theories of governance networks and self governance. The Centre steps back from the classical engineering approach towards water management; instead, engineering solutions are considered as important elements in the study of water management that are embedded in a broader spectrum of approaches and solutions.