The Mediterranean Studies Initiative is an interdisciplinary program initiated by the Cornell Institute for European Studies that involves scholars from all departments at Cornell who deal with some area of the Mediterranean, and encourages affiliation with academic institutions in a number of countries.
The Mediterranean Initiative has been active for the last three years in interdisciplinary research and teaching related to the problems of fresh water in the Mediterranean region.
Working with faculty from the Cornell Law School and Engineering departments, the program has created a course on water issues relating to the Mediterranean and has carried out research on the island of Crete in 2010.
Director of the Mediterranean Initiative, Gail Holst-Warhaft, and Professor Tammo Steenhuis (Biological and Environmental Engineering) are co-editors of the book, "Losing Paradise: The Water Crisis in the Mediterranean"(2010), which takes a uniquely interdisciplinary view of the Eastern Mediterranean region’s water problems using case studies from Lebanon, Italy, Spain, Egypt, Jordan and Cyprus.
The Mediterranean Initiative also encourages cooperation and exchange with other Mediterranean Studies programs at universities and other institutions in the Mediterranean area. The program currently has Memorandums of Understanding with institutions in Rethymnon, Beirut, and Cairo.
In Late May and early June a group of six Cornell students from various disciplines worked with Director Gail Holst-Warhaft, Professor Tammo Steenhuis (BEE), and with the local water authorities in Santorini, on a project funded by CIES and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. Cornell's Atkinson Center is the most important resource at Cornell for environmental research and has generously supported our research on water scarcity in the Mediterranean. The project, designed in collaboration with Global Water Partnership — Mediterranean, and the Thira Water Board, was aimed at assessing the viability of old public cisterns, some of them dating from the Byzantine period, as a means of storing rainwater. A second project, devised by the students themselves, was to create a water-related walking tour of the island. A third project, directed by Civiltà dell'Acqua in Venice, was to create a virtual water museum of the island.