Aga Khan Professor of Landscape Architecture and Geography
in the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT;
Co-director, Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism
James L. Wescoat, Jr. is an Aga Khan Professor of landscape architecture and geography in the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT. He co-directs the Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism. Jim earned a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree from Louisiana State University and practiced landscape architecture in the U.S. and Middle East before returning to graduate study in geography at the University of Chicago with an emphasis on water resources. Before joining MIT, he taught courses on landscape research, geographic theory, and water resources at the University of Chicago, University of Colorado at Boulder, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he was a member of centers for South Asian, Middle Eastern, and Public Policy studies.
His research has concentrated on water systems in South Asia and the US from the site to river basin scales. At the site scale, Professor Wescoat has focused on historical waterworks of Mughal gardens and cities in India and Pakistan. He led the Smithsonian Institution's project titled, "Garden, City, and Empire: The Historical Geography of Mughal Lahore," which resulted in a co-edited volumes on Mughal Gardens: Sources, Places, Representations, Prospects, and The Mughal Garden: Interpretation, Conservation, and Implications with colleagues from Dumbarton Oaks and the University of Engineering and Technology-Lahore. These and related books have won awards from the Government of Pakistan and Punjab Government. The overall Mughal Gardens Project won an American Society of Landscape Architects national research merit award, as did a project on The Moonlight Garden: New Discoveries at the Taj led by Elizabeth Moynihan. This work has been supported by fellowships from Dumbarton Oaks, the Freer and Sackler Galleries of Asian Art, and the American Academy in Rome.
At the larger scale, Professor Wescoat has conducted water policy research in the Colorado, Indus, Ganges, and Great Lakes basins, including the history of multilateral water agreements. He led a USEPA-funded study of potential climate impacts in the Indus River Basin in Pakistan with the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA). In 2003, he published Water for Life: Water Management and Environmental Policy with geographer Gilbert F. White (Cambridge University Press); and in 2007 he co-edited Political Economies of Landscape Change: Places of Integrative Power (Springer Publishing) for LAF Landscape Futures Initiative.
At MIT Jim teaches courses on Islamic Architecture and the environment, Islamic gardens and geographies, Water-conserving design, and Landscape heritage conservation. His current water research includes studies of Rurban Water Planning in Maharashtra with the MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design, and Water-Energy Nexus management in Punjab Pakistan and the UAE. His current landscape research includes studies of Indo-Islamic waterworks and gardens in Delhi, the Deccan, and Lahore; and collaborative work with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and Aga Khan Agency for Habitat. He is a fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, and a lifetime member of the U.S. National Research Council.