This reflection article highlights some of the science that underpins our understanding of cooperation over shared water resources. Power dynamics, hegemony, negotiation theory, social psychology and justice, international relations, conflict-cooperation and global change all contribute to the body of knowledge that scientists, researchers, policy and decision makers and practitioners draw upon in this field. The science is complemented by the necessary art of cooperation which is largely captured in the practice, management and governance of shared water resources. Institutional reform and the establishment of organisations in this context allows for many and varied methods for creating trusting relationships and effective partnerships for cooperation. Both the art and science is supported by the pedagogy of water cooperation which draws on the rich diversity of scientific disciplines and governance arrangements. Collective action can be used as a bridge between the sciences and the arts both in linking theoretical concepts and in linking the scientific and practical implementation of co-operation over shared waters.