Human Dimensions Throughout history, humans have relied on rivers for food, transportation, agriculture and recreation. Rivers were the cradles of civilization and the ecology of rivers allowed for the dawn of agriculture. Though early human civilization was dependent on the river and the natural cycles of flooding, humans have altered river systems and have changed the function of the ecosystem in many profound ways. Today, humans still interact with the river and rely on what has become an intensively managed ecosystem. The National Great Rivers Research and Education Center aspires to host a world-class social science research program that is relevant to the river, its watersheds and promotes a clear understanding of the interactions of the human and the environment. This human dimensions research will inform policy and management decisions leading to a more sustainable Mississippi River ecosystem.