Dr. Lanthier's most recent project deals with water, and the ways in which people have understood and treated this most basic of commodities throughout history. Fresh water is becoming increasingly rare as the global population continues to grow and damage our fragile eco-system: competition for this scarce yet absolutely vital resource will shape the 21st century, particularly in a water-rich country like Canada. A better understanding of our historical attitudes towards water is necessary for the drafting of equitable and sustainable water policies in the near future.
In January 1919, two months after the armistice that effectively ended the Great War, hundreds of statesmen and diplomats from thirty-two countries around the world gathered in Paris to draw up a series of treaties; for many of them, this was an opportunity to solve all the world’s outstanding geopolitical problems “in one stroke” and ensure peace for generations to come. This naturally did not come to pass, and the Conference quickly acquired a terrible reputation that has survived into the twenty-first century.
While the Conference might strike us today as a quintessential example of Western hubris, is it reasonable to hold the diplomats and statesmen of 1919 responsible for so many of the world’s ills? Some scholars have recently claimed that the Conference was much more innovative than it is often given credit for, and that it gave birth to our modern international system.
In order to evaluate the Conference objectively, we will study the events leading up to it (including the outbreak of war in 1914), its proceedings, the Treaties that it produced, the actors and institutions who participated in it, and its immediate aftermath, all in their proper historical context.