James L. Wescoat, Jr. is the Aga Khan Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned his 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. He taught courses on landscape research, geographic theory, and water resources at the University of Chicago and University of Colorado at Boulder, 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. For the greater part of his career, Professor Wescoat has focused on small-scale 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 volume onMughal Gardens: Sources, Places, Representations, Prospects, and The Mughal Garden: Interpretation, Conservation, and Implicationswith colleagues from 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 Tajled by Elizabeth Moynihan. This work has been generously supported by fellowships from Dumbarton Oaks, the Freer and Sackler Galleries of Asian Art, and the American Academy in Rome.
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). More recently, he led an NSF-funded project on "Water and Poverty in Colorado." He is currently conducting comparative research on international water problems. In 2003, he published Water for Life: Water Management and Environmental Policywith 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.
Wescoat, James L. Jr. "Searching for Comparative International Water Research: Urban and Rural Water Conservation Research in India and the United States." Water Alternatives 7:1 (2014): 199-219.
Comparison is common in water management research: every table, map, and graph invites comparisons of different places and variables. Detailed international comparisons, however, seem infrequent in water resources research. To assess this perceived gap, this paper searched for examples of comparative research between two water sub-sectors in two countries using systematic bibliographic mapping procedures. It focused on rural and urban water conservation research in India and the United States. Search methods built upon procedures initially developed for the FAO Investment Centre and more advanced systematic review methods. The search generally confirmed that there have been few detailed comparative international studies on the subject of this review. Not surprisingly, there are a greater number of comparative studies between rural and urban water conservation within each country. The search also identified different conservation emphases in the two countries, e.g., rainwater harvesting in India compared with stormwater quality management in the United States. It identified unanticipated publications and lines of comparative water conservation (e.g. comparative physiology). Some transnational research goes beyond comparison to address the diffusion of innovations, i.e. research linkages as well as comparisons, although these studies are also few. The more prevalent pattern involves parallel literatures, which indicate substantial opportunities for future comparative and transnational research. This review also identified diffusion of international knowledge paths that are not the product of formal comparative research. The final section focuses on the prospects and priorities for future international and inter-sectoral research, e.g. paired multi-objective river basin research, linkages between climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, diffusion of water conservation innovations, and synthesis of research on urban and rural rainwater harvesting in different countries.
Keywords: comparative research, water conservation, bibliographic mapping, India, United States